Working from home may reduce as work places are opening up and people are going back into offices that have sat virtually empty for the last several months. For many managers, this is with a sigh of relief. Employees will now be back in sight and productivity can be assumed by just eyeballing the room. All of the fabled benefits of face to face collaboration can now be had.
But wait, it’s not like collaboration stopped when everyone was working from home. Was productivity down? Sure, but that is everywhere. A workforce stressed by a global pandemic, economic distress, and in many cases civil unrest is going to be a workforce that isn’t as productive as it was prior to those things all happening in rapid succession. There are good reasons, especially in cities where there are transportation issues, to consider working from home on a more permanent basis, rather than just as an emergency measure.
Corporate costs savings of working from home
From a corporate standpoint, there are cost savings in reducing office size and downsizing branch locations. Heating, cooling, cleaning and maintenance are just the start of cost savings there. In urban settings, many employees commute for an hour or more to and from the office. That means their time with family is shorter, their ability to relax and recover physically and mentally from a day’s work is less.
Personal expenses for those employees on cars, buses, and trains are part of the every-day cost of doing business for your employees. It’s a considerable benefit for them to be home, to be able to commute from a spare bedroom or kitchen table. It saves time, money, and in the vast majority of cases it increases job satisfaction overall. A simple dead battery in the car turns from a vacation day burned into a minor inconvenience.
Technology can ease management concerns
Still managers worry that working from home isn’t like working in the office. Well no, it is not. That does not mean it’s worse. Just different. Today, we have the technology to ease many of the issues. Collaboration software such as Slack and Microsoft Teams. Conferencing software, sometimes integrated with collaboration such as WebEx Teams and Microsoft Teams.
These are just a few examples. Data security can be assured as well, the technology is available to even bring the corporate desk phone to the home, if that is what is desired. It’s not even that expensive, especially when you consider the costs of office furniture. We have the technology to make the transition to work from home for many employees.
What we have to do is get over old prejudices about productivity, costs, and risks associated. The cost savings, employee benefits, and energy savings by both the employee and the company make it worthwhile. There also needs to be some easy common-sense things that need to be done. Quarterly or bi-annual meet-ups, where employees either meet at the office or at an off-site location will help teams to bond. Regular use of cameras during meetings is also helpful to put faces with names.
Transitioning to working from home will take time
Transitioning many employees to a permanent work from home situation isn’t as easy as snapping your fingers, but long term it’s worth it. It saves the company money, provides significant benefits for the employee and helps to green corporate operations. So be open to the idea. If it worked during the lock-down, it can work now. Everyone talks about the “changing face of work”, well work from home is now a big part of it.