Google have announced it’s back to work as usual for their UK offices from September. Twitter is happy for their staff to work from home ‘forever’ but what are the implications of continuing to work from home, or indeed a full return to the office? What’s right for your company, your staff and your customers?
Benefits of continuing to work from home
The pandemic divided companies into those able to cut short their lease (or arrange a rent holiday) and those that were forced to pay full whack for empty desks. Office costs are a big outgoing for most companies. Just as the consensus that hot-desking sucked was established, it’s now looking like a quite sensible option again. You can cut your space dramatically, knowing that half your staff will be working remotely on any given day. Whether you’re planning a full remote working future or much more flexible WFH options, there are plenty of savings to be made.
Most studies suggest that productivity increases when staff work from home. This was certainly the case for the couple of days from home a week situation. However it will be interesting to see whether this continues in a fully remote work situation. During the pandemic productivity fluctuated too much but there were unforeseen factors involved to say the least.
Staff have more free time
Let’s face it one of the big perks of the pandemic was avoiding the commute. Whether it’s a twenty minute car journey or an hour and half on public transport, no one wants to spend that time travelling. Commuting can be really tiring and be very draining. A fresh-faced awake employee is certainly preferable to the tired stressed one. Your staff have realised what it’s like to spend more time with their families, to have that bit more energy at the weekends and to savour their breakfast. A short sharp shock back into the old fashioned commute may risk an exodus. Appreciate how valuable personal time is and make sure it’s a priority.
Potential negatives of continuing to work from home
It doesn’t suit everyone
To abandon the office entirely may be to abandon a percentage of your staff. Some people need to separate their work and home lives. Some just don’t live in suitable accommodation to allocate space for work and some enjoy the journey and the change of environment. Don’t disregard the social aspect of work. Having a coffee with a colleague, catching up over lunch, the Friday night pint. These are all important parts of our lives, however inconsequential they seem at the time. For some people it may be the main human contact they have.
You don’t need to be in the creative industries to need creativity in your workplace. Being able to fire off ideas in an informal, supportive manner is really important for problem solving. If your team are really close and comfortable with each other you can have effective brainstorming sessions via Zoom. However, the day-to-day chatter of the office can be where the real sparks of inspiration fly. Suddenly solutions reveal themselves through relaxed conversations, rather than the slightly stilted… sorry you carry on… oh no I was finished anyway… oh I think there’s a bit of a delay…. online meetings. We’ll probably develop solutions to help field creativity remotely but will they ever replace people being in a room together?
Bigger impacts on society
Okay this is a bit of a weird one but worth thinking about. If no one goes to the office any more what will happen to our towns or our business parks? Yes there won’t be the traffic jams, the pollution, the queues at Pret a Manager but will it kill our towns and cities? Will all the cafes, the corner shops, the pubs go out of business? Not enough people live in town or city centres to sustain them alone – don’t underestimate the lunch break spend! We live in strange times and the old commute seems surprisingly antiquated now but we need to understand what will be lost and what will be gained by a remote working future.
We have roles remote and office based available now! What will the careers page look like in 2022?