The business world has been irrevocably changed by the coronavirus outbreak. Companies were forced to embrace remote workforce technology just to survive. Work-from-home policies were developed on-the-fly. When the world is ready to safely open up again, the traditional office will look a lot different. It might even be obsolete.
Donna Hall with Raleigh IT Service provider, OnPar Technologies shares her insights into the future of remote work.
Over the past several months, many workers will have grown used to the work-from-home lifestyle. On average, a worker saves $4,000 by not commuting every single day. Beyond that, there are ancillary benefits such as being able to sleep later and working in a more comfortable environment.
For businesses, the productivity loss has been minimal, if it exists at all. It would be wise to continue to utilize the investments in remote work technology and leverage the processes that have been developed and held to the fire. There’s also the potential for significant cost savings. Operating and scaling physical offices is a major expense. Being able to scale back could have a major impact on the bottom-line.
The question then becomes: what will our remote work policy look like in the future? Here’s a quick rundown of what you’ll need to consider with who needs to return to the office, how to deal with stragglers, and some remote work strategies you should consider if you do decide to make it a permanent part of your corporate strategy.
Bringing Workers Back - When and Who?
It goes without saying that you’ll need to wait for your local government’s signoff to start bringing workers back into the office. Each jurisdiction will have its own guidelines, so make sure to review them carefully.
To start, don’t bring everybody back all at once. You’ll want to stagger the return carefully. Begin by bringing back the staff that absolutely must be in the office together. This reduces the health risk for employees in the office. It also minimizes the business interruption that might occur if everybody returns to the office on the same day, spending time settling back in and catching up with their colleagues.
You’ll also need to prepare for some workers to be reluctant to return. They might be more susceptible to the virus or live with relatives who are. You should, therefore, plan for your remote workforce infrastructure to remain in place after the office opens again.
Remote Office Strategies for the Future
The most sensible solution is to allow workers to enjoy working from home at least part of the time, if not permanently. This means your remote workforce infrastructure should remain in place in perpetuity. If you do decide to go with a fully or partially remote workforce, here are some strategies you’ll need to put in place to support your employees no matter where they are:
- Run daily check-ins: if part of your team is in the office and the rest are at home, it’s important to keep them on the same page. A daily team check-in where everyone gives a quick 2-minute update on their projects, successes, and blockers will go a long way to keeping the team united.
- Document structured engagement processes: not everyone will be able to pop into your office, so it’s important to document the best way to communicate with managers and colleagues. For example, Microsoft Teams (with video on) for the daily check-in, but a private Slack message for day-to-day questions. If something is urgent, send a text message.
- Stay flexible: during the coronavirus outbreak, businesses were forced to move to work-from-home very quickly. Technology and best practices haven’t had a chance to catch-up. As your company continues to evolve, make sure to constantly revisit your processes and ask your employees how you can do better.
The world will be forever changed by the coronavirus outbreak, and that includes the way we run our businesses. Focusing on your remote workforce strategy allows your workers to enjoy greater flexibility and keeps your business ready for any future outbreaks.