Even as COVID-19 case rates drop and states begin opening up, you may be thinking about closing your office so your staff can work from home permanently. You’re not alone. Studies indicate that a large portion of the workforce is planning to retain part of their operations as remote, or implementing flexible work policies that allow for that option.
The decision to keep a team remote can stem from a variety of reasons, including health and financial considerations. Whether you’re hoping to eliminate some costs or want to continue protecting vulnerable employees, here are some things to consider before taking the plunge.
It Can Cut Costs
One key motivator for shifting to a work from home model is how it can help companies slash certain costs. Without a physical building, or with a smaller space in active use, real estate, utility, and maintenance costs can be significantly reduced or eliminated.
Provide a Saftey Net
Even before COVID-19, there were natural disasters and other emergency events that disrupted businesses. Hurricanes, flooding, wildfires, and other disasters could easily knock businesses out. Keeping a portion of your business remote acts as a safety net in the event of another virus or other unforeseen situation that forces offices to close. They can continue working and provide a framework for the rest of the office to join during shutdowns.
Possibly Boost Productivity
Though its still early days, there has been some indication that employees working from home at this time were more productive than when they had been in the office. Though there are distractions, several are unique to the current crisis. For example, while childcare is currently a potential distraction for home employees, eventually, schools will reopen, reducing the difficulty.
Can Undo Work-Life Balance
One concern for permanently moving to a remote model is the difficulty in maintaining a healthy work-life balance. The technology already has us attached to work for longer hours than ever; now, we might never actually “leave” our jobs. This could potentially affect employee well-being and relationships.
Means Investing in Home Offices
Right now, many employees have adapted to the short-term nature of the COVID-19 crisis, but these fixes, such as working from a kitchen counter or coffee table, aren’t practical for the long term. Employers who genuinely wish to move to a completely remote situation will need to think about at-home work conditions, from internet speeds to office equipment.
Disrupts Organized Communication
Online communication and collaboration can be tricky at the best of times, but when everyone on a team is separated by distance and flexible schedules, things can get even stickier. Collaboration software and platforms can help with many of these problems, but may still fall short if your business requires rapid turnover for teamwork.
The truth is, the choice does not need to be an all-or-nothing one. There are many nontraditional spaces, such as libraries, coffee shops, parks, and community centers that could allow for regular team meetings at low costs, and initiatives that encourage employees to take breaks.
One thing this experience has taught many businesses is that they can be creative and adapt well to new circumstances. The important thing is to make the decision with eyes open to the up and downsides so that it works best for both businesses and employees.
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