Should We Let Employees Work-From-Home Indefinitely? A Thread...
If you aren't familiar with a 'thread' on Twitter, it's "a series of connected Tweets from one person. With a thread you can provide additional context, an update, or an extended point by connecting multiple Tweets together."
As you may have recently seen in the news, big companies like Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, and Google are allowing employees to continue working from home even after the coronavirus pandemic has subsided. While the parameters surrounding the work from home (WFH) qualifications and requirements differ for each company, these tech giants are setting the stage for the future of work and it will be interesting to see how it plays out.
As a consultant in human resources and recruiting, I'm curious if other leaders are thinking about the same concept. Could your employees work without the workplace on a more permanent basis going forward?
Weighing the Pros Vs. Cons of a Long-Term Remote Workforce
Here are some key questions to consider below:
- How is your business doing?
Does your company thrive on in-person interaction, or do you find your employees are communicative and productive regardless of where they're working? Take a look at your employee morale, client satisfaction, and financial documents to compare your previous work outputs to your current outputs. If the business is sailing smoothly, you may not need to require in-office work.
- What are you saving?
Speaking of financials, is it possible your company has saved money in certain ways during this time? Perhaps your office building has given you a discount on rent or utilities. What would business financials look like if you didn't have to pay for office space, phone lines, and new water filters? If your company is saving big bucks while working from home, you may want to consider the annual savings of forgoing an office space.
- Could you benefit from just a conference room?
While reducing our commute time sounds like a dream, having face-to-face interaction has proven to be beneficial for our brains and our organizational culture. You may be considering ending your office lease, but maybe you still want to have a dedicated space where teams can collaborate, and client meetings can occur. Consider looking at a smaller space that is used just for business meetings and team projects. This space could also positively impact company morale with monthly all-hands meetings or informal get-togethers. By having a part-time, collaboration-only workspace, your company could ensure that everyone stays connected to both your organization and to each other.
- What about IT?
Perhaps the most essential question to consider. Digital work can be efficient and easy to access; however, it's important to keep security top of mind. Have you thought about the implications of employees using their personal network and devices? It's critical to think about information and document security, as well as trustworthy hardware. Brainstorm with your IT team about ways you could transfer your operations to a cloud platform or provide laptops, individual WiFis, or other hardware to your employees. Think about setting up regular meetings with your IT team to ensure your business is doing everything it can to keep its information and employees safe from technical problems and cyber-attacks.
- Does EVERYONE need to be in the office?
Certain teams or key leaders may need to be in the office regularly, yet that doesn't mean everyone has to be. Office attendance could be on an as-needed or as desired basis while keeping important internal functions or executive roles in a stable location.
- What do your employees think?
If you're racking your brain to come up with a 'new normal' for the workplace, just ask your team! Get their input on how WFH life has been treating them and what suggestions they may have for the future. You may discover your team is flourishing and you may also uncover some nuances to consider.
Whatever strategy is right for your company, it's important that it makes sense for both your clients and your employees. Get the opinions of those operating in your business and don't be afraid to try out-of-the-box ideas. Start small or do trial runs with any changes you may be making. Be open to the fact that some changes may not work for the better. Innovation has never been easy, yet time has proven that thinking big and risk-taking are necessary for getting ahead.