This is a topic that we have discussed to some degree in the past, but as we move into month 16 of the pandemic and are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel (thank you, vaccine!), we wanted to give focus to the whole remote work versus office topic. One thing is for certain: we will see a significant increase in remote work compared to a couple of years ago. The pandemic was a disruptor that likely moved the remote work discussion up by about 10-15 years. That is, had there not been the pandemic, many organizations would have continued along “as-is” without giving remote work much of a thought. While remote work of course isn’t possible for all occupations, it is for many office / administration roles. Items to think about when considering if remote work is right moving forward for your organization:
- Can employees be just as productive working from home as they are in the office?
- Is space a consideration? For example, do you currently lease space that you wouldn’t need if employees work from home? Or is space essentially a fixed asset for you?
- How will customers or clients be impacted by the approach that you choose?
- Does a hybrid approach work for your organization? For instance, having employees work part-time from home and part-time from the office. Depending on your physical office, there could be cost-savings by not needing as much space with this approach.
- Will recruitment and retention – for example – be more challenging if you do not allow for a flexible, remote environment?
- How does a remote vs. office work environment impact your company culture?
While there are tangible items to think about (space, IT, etc.), there are also intangibles such as organizational culture that need to be considered.
If you do go the route of having employees work remotely, ensure that you develop policies that will assist your organization. For example, let’s say that you approve one of your employees to work remotely. After doing so, this individual makes the decision to relocate to Vancouver. What happens if you need her to occasionally come to the office? Having clear policies and procedures in place will mitigate any issues that may arise.
While it’s easy to have everyone working from the office and (relatively) easy to have everyone working remotely, the biggest challenge – at least initially – is a hybrid approach where you may have some staff in the office and others working remotely. Needless to say, it will take time to sort out a system that works best. That is, day 365 will likely look different than it does on day 1.
There are lots of scenarios to think about, and we’d need to fill many pages in order to cover them all. At the end of the day, you need to do what’s best for your organization – both operationally but also for the people that work for you. The important thing to keep in mind is that this is something that is new for everyone, and it will take some time to fine tune things to get them to where you want them to be.