A global pandemic has a way of changing things in both the immediate and long-term. For many of us, it may be hard to find an area of our lives that hasn’t been impacted. But none may be more pronounced than the massive shift towards working remotely.
Sure, the world was already trending towards remote workplaces. But COVID-19 accelerated the move faster than anyone could have anticipated.
Suddenly, those of us who were used to the daily grind in a traditional office setting were locked out of the building. It has been replaced with the dual challenges of working from home and keeping some shred of sanity while doing so.
But there will come a time when the pandemic thankfully clears up. A time when all of us will look to return to a sense of normalcy.
Yet, it’s worth wondering how this affects businesses who have gone to a remote model. Will it be worth the move back to a physical office space? How do you determine what the right thing is for your company?
Today, we’ll take a look at some factors worth considering before making a commitment either way.
Financial Costs and Obligations
The bottom line is what drives most business decisions. So, it only makes sense that the first factor on our list is the financial costs and obligations of your company.
While there are a number of benefits to a brick-and-mortar office (which we’ll get to in a minute), there’s also a significant cost. This should be a primary consideration for business owners.
First and foremost, it’s important to look at how the pandemic has impacted your revenue. If you have lost money during this time, do you anticipate bouncing back to pre-crisis levels? How long will it take to get back to where you were?
Your future financial obligations should also play a role. For example, if you are locked into a long-term lease for your office, that may be the ultimate determining factor. Paying for an unoccupied property is both wasteful and a serious drain on cash flow.
Still, if you determine that it’s financially beneficial, that’s a big checkmark in favor of staying remote.
Efficiency and Level of Customer Service
Some industries lend themselves better to a remote, distributed workforce. Technology-based companies, for instance, can often be adapted to this model without harming efficiency or customer service.
However, a remote workplace isn’t the right fit for everybody. Without the right processes and employee buy-in, communication among team members can be cumbersome. This in turn will make it more difficult to get things done. Quality suffers and, ultimately, it’s bad for business.
In order to be successful, a remote team has to work as well as one in a physical office. Everyone needs to be on the same page and the same level of accountability must exist.
If you’ve moved from a traditional office to a virtual one, look at how your team members are working together. Define the pain points as well as the successes.
Of course, a sudden move will likely have resulted in some chaos – that’s to be expected. But since those early days of remote working, how have things evolved? Has there been steady improvement or have you continued to struggle with this new way of working?
Financial considerations aside, a sustained drop-off in quality or efficiency may signal a need to get back into your building sooner rather than later.
The Morale of Your Team
Finally, we shouldn’t dismiss the human element in all of this. Any of the aforementioned chaos that came along with the move to a remote workplace doesn’t just affect your business. This also greatly impacts the lives of team members as well.
Each person has had their own challenges to face. Those with children may be juggling working at home while simultaneously caring for their kids. They might also be dealing with technological issues like finnicky internet connectivity or aging hardware that make work more difficult. Not to mention those who are caregivers to family members who have fallen ill due to the pandemic itself.
These things take a toll on individuals and the team as a whole. In that way, it’s worth considering if remote work is helping or hurting. The answer may well be different for each person.
Some people crave – and need – the intimate connection that comes from working side-by-side with others. This could be a way for them to escape the other stressors in their life. It provides an avenue to separate work and home in a way that benefits their mental health.
It can be difficult to find and keep good people. One way to accomplish this feat is to offer the best work environment possible. You’ll have to look at everyone involved and determine whether that’s remote, physical or a hybrid approach.
Going Back or Staying at Home: It’s a Big Decision
Clearly, there are no easy or one-size-fits-all answers here. If your company was forced into remote work due to the pandemic, deciding whether or not to go back to the way things were can be difficult.
There are a number of considerations – each one critical to making the right choice. There’s the financial aspect, that will help you determine what is feasible. Then there’s productivity and making sure that your team is still able to get work done without impediment.
And, there is also the physical and mental well-being of your team. We are all human and deal with such rapid changes in our own way. How will your decision affect them over the long term?
It’s a big decision. But, in the end, it’s about doing what’s right for everyone involved.