Should Your Team Return to the Office or Keep Working from Home?
Pandemic lesson #589 (too many to count!): We learned we can work virtually. Some employees are thriving in this environment while others can’t wait to get back to the office. If you are trying to decide if you should keep your workforce at home, bring them back, or try a hybrid approach, here are some points to consider to help you maintain culture and productivity:
1.Can your team find the balance between working and home life? Do they feel like they are working all the time?
When you’re working from home, it’s easy to just sit on the couch and work after business hours. If you do this regularly, it can feel like you work all the time and start to resent your work. Even though this feels irrational since we often make the choice to work these additional hours, it’s an issue that should still be addressed.
You can minimize after-hours work by setting clear expectations. What are the working hours you expect your team to be available? We ask our team to be available for four core hours during the day for meeting internally and with clients.
What tasks should be completed and what are the due dates? If your team has a clear idea of what they are supposed to do and when work is due, they can manage their time accordingly.
2.Do they feel connected to team members in the office or others who are also remote?
Managers will need to develop new management skills to keep those who are remotely connected to the team in-house and other remote workers. It’s easy to forget those who are able to or who want to work remotely if you regularly see others in the office. It will require discipline and additional communication on the manager’s part to keep the team on a level playing field.
There are apps that can help keep everyone informed about events, meetings, and other news from the office. Check out the app Turnout, an employee engagement platform dedicated to keeping everyone engaged in the new remote environment.
3.Do people on your team need to see coworkers in person to feel connected? Do they need a space outside their home to work productively?
Social interaction can be minimal when working remotely, and it can feel even more isolating as more people are getting out. Some members of your team will need to be in the office. These people are usually easy to recognize—they’re the ones who have been asking since March 2020 when the office will reopen. Or they might be embarrassed to speak up about their desire to be back in the office, especially if most of the team wants to remain remote.
If you decide to have the team continue working remotely but you have employees who need to get out of their homes to work effectively, you can try shared workspaces like Tigerlabs. The space is considerably less expensive than renting an entire office, and it can be used at the employee’s convenience. Leadership teams will need to recognize what environment their teams need to be most productive.
There’s no one-size-fits-all environment that will make your teams happy and productive. The pandemic has taught us we can accommodate our employees’ needs while still providing superior customer service and products to our customers.