The best of both worlds

Are you heading back to the office, or is your remote work model here to stay?

By Hannah Massen

It’s no secret that the pandemic forced thousands of businesses across countries to close their doors, but as companies reopen at full capacity, their owners and employees seem to have landed in one of two camps: those who miss their morning commute, in-person meetings, and communal coffee maker at the office, and those who are reluctant to leave behind the comfort and flexibility of working from home. 

Now, business owners aren’t wondering when they’ll go back to the office, but if they’ll go back to the office at all.

Leaders at large corporations also have been grappling with the to-go-or-not-to-go back to the office dilemma. Netflix co-founder and co-CEO Reed Hastings has emerged as one of working from home’s most vocal opponents. “I don’t see any positives,” he said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. “Not being able to get together in person, particularly internationally, is a pure negative.” Microsoft, on the other hand, is allowing employees to decide where they’d prefer to work. The tech giant recently adopted a new policy which includes allowing employees to work from home full time with approval or move to a new location with salaries adjusted based on geography. Facebook also is allowing certain employees to work remotely full time, and Twitter said employees can continue working from home “forever” if they wish. 

Even if you’ve desperately missed your workday routine or have started calling the beach your “home office,” the decision to transition back to in-person or to continue working remotely is about more than personal preference. We’ve made a list of factors for you to consider while finalizing your post-pandemic business model.

Communication

As we’ve all learned in the last year, communication still happens when working remotely, it’s just different. Face-to-face meetings become video calls, quick questions are asked over Slack, and emails – well, they’re still emails. No one can escape those. 

One of the most common cases for working from home is the ability to take calls and send messages from anywhere. But nothing can quite replace the connections coworkers create when they share an office or bump into each other in the break room. It can be difficult to build meaningful work relationships through a screen – especially when most people have their cameras turned off or are clearly checking their texts. 

Flexibility

When you head to the office on workdays, it’s likely you have a set schedule. Your alarm goes off at 7, you swing through Starbucks at 8:15, and you’re at your desk by 9. But when you’re working from home, every day could look a little different. You might not start work until after your morning yoga class, but you might be on your laptop through dinner, too. Some people enjoy having the flexibility to work and take breaks when it suits them, while others are tempted to wake up two minutes before their first meeting, making for a chaotic start to the day.

Working remotely takes a good deal of discipline if you want to meet deadlines on time, but it also requires intention when it comes to maintaining a work-life balance. Your team members might know that their workday is done when they see their coworkers pack up for the day, but at home, those cues don’t exist. It can be all too tempting to tweak a presentation during your “personal time,” which can lead to a serious case of burnout. 

Finance 

There’s a big difference between working from home and at the office where finances are concerned – and we’re not talking about how much money you make. 

First, there’s the obvious advantage of saving on rent if you’re not paying for an office space, allowing you to allocate the money that would normally go towards your workspace, utilities, and insurance to other areas of your business. But working from home can help you and your team cut personal, day-to-day costs, too. You’ll most likely save on gas money if you’re not commuting to work every day, and may not be as tempted to get lunch or coffee out. However, working from home may come with its own monthly fees for you and your employees, like a high-speed internet bill, personal software plans, and at-home office equipment. 

Productivity

A study conducted by UC Irvine found that a typical office worker is interrupted every 11 minutes. If that wasn’t bad enough, it takes 25 minutes to get back on task.

It might be easier to focus at home if you have a quiet space to yourself, but that isn’t the case for every worker. Many people found it tough to hold down the fort at home while trying to concentrate on work during the pandemic. But for those who are tempted to chat with coworkers while they’re on the clock or linger by the vending machine, working from home may be the way to go. 

Business owners now have a unique opportunity to create an environment that truly works for them and their employees. It may take some time and energy to adopt a new business model, but if we’ve learned anything in the last year, it’s that anything is possible.

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