While COVID-19 has forced many large companies to shift their workforce to an entirely remote capacity, smaller companies have been able to provide safe, socially distanced physical workspaces to allow for a hybrid approach to work.
Whether it’s going into the office once, twice, or even three times a week, a hybrid approach can allow employees to still have some sort of a remote capability built into their schedule – but also enjoy the benefits that come with going into the office.
If one thing is for sure though, it’s that these different approaches to modern work during COVID-19 have proven that remote work is here to stay, regardless of what the future looks like.
Although a nagging feeling of work from home burnout began to be mutually experienced as the pandemic wore on, many individuals did express that remote work allowed for a greater sense of comfortability and convenience – without seeing a decline in their productivity.
In fact, many employers even saw a jump in productivity and quality of work, given the more relaxed work environment that employees were working from.
What’s more is that these larger companies who have experienced the benefits of letting employees work remotely have now begun to re-evaluate their long-term real estate footprint and have started to ask questions such as:
- Are large, dense offices a thing of the past?
- Should we downsize to spaces with shorter, more flexible terms in case something like this happens again?
- If we do downsize, what does that look like?
- Do we need an office space at all? What if we don’t need a physical workspace but still need a business presence in various markets?
- If something like this does happen again, will we want to be locked into an expensive, long-term office agreement?
- Will our employees even want to return to the office full time post-pandemic?
- How can cost-saving alternatives such as utilizing a coworking space help us to save money while still providing safe, team environments?
- How can we better engage with remote employees?
Thus, understanding that remote work will likely be a mainstay and that five-days-a-week in the office quite possibly may be a thing of the past is important in finding the answers to these questions.
It’s also crucial to understand that new approaches to remote work and in-person work may emerge that we don’t even know about yet.
How do companies prepare for a future of effectively managing remote workers and teams?
By allowing greater flexibility in employees’ schedules:
As many have indeed experienced that work from home burnout, it’s forced individuals to come up with on-the-fly solutions to curing this newfound sense of work fatigue. Providing a sense of flexibility and freedom into your employees’ work days can lead to more productive work days that end with individuals feeling refreshed rather than burnt out and ready to quit early. This alluded flexibility can be as simple as allowing employees to pencil in personal break time – which can be made up at any desired time in the day – to go for a walk, to grab a bite to eat, or just anything that can be a positive proponent during a busy day. Regimenting employees to repetitive schedules make for a feeling of mundaneness where each day feels the same as the last. Allow your employees to break free from this cycle and give them the ability to structure their workdays in a way that works best for their style – not what you assume their style to be.
By providing adequate remote work resources:
Let’s use an analogy to adequately explain this one. When the NBA hosted its end-of-season bubble tournament at Disney’s Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida, players were isolated in hotel rooms, away from their families for weeks on time to avoid the spread of COVID-19. The NBA theorized that away from the court, these long hours of isolation would lead to depression, anxiety, and loneliness. So, each team was mandated to travel with various mental health professionals to offer the players continued support while they played in the tournament. View your employees the same way. It’s not easy to work remotely for long hours away from colleagues, friends, and family – especially with the difficulties that COVID-19 presents. Be sure to always have resources that your employees can use to ease the strain that isolated remote work can bring. Whether it’s providing access to mental health professionals, online resources, virtual ways to interact with colleagues, or even providing meal stipends for employees to grab something for their favorite lunch or dinner spot, it’s so crucial to be there for your employees during these changing times.
By creating events to keep camaraderie between team members:
Although alluded to in the previous sentiment, creating fun events for your employees is something that deserves a closer look. Obviously due to COVID-19, large gatherings are difficult to schedule right now so for the time being, create virtual events where your team or company can continue to experience that sense of camaraderie that was prevalently shared in the physical office. We’ve seen virtual happy hours, virtual bingo, virtual icebreakers – you name it, it’s been done. Although sometimes cheesy, you’d’ be surprised that the impact these events can have on the mood of an employee or team. As time does wear on and conditions become safer, start to plan new ways for employees and teams to interact outside of work projects. Although many are currently separated by distance, closing this gap will be crucial over time in building the chemistry of a remote work team.
By providing alternative approaches to remote work:
Remote work doesn’t have to mean that your employees are confined to just working from their home. Companies of any size can provide alternative approaches to a hybrid work method. First, a floating approach can be taken where a company leases a workspace through a coworking provider for 50 employees but only up to half of the team can access the space at once. Thus, making for a safe, socially distanced workspace where team members can tailor their work schedules around the rolling capacity of the workspace. Maybe a company does continue to lease a corporate office, but employees can choose how much time they spend in the office, from one, two, three, or even four days a week in the office – while having at least one day of working from home. Third, another popular alternative of the future could be companies utilizing coworking spaces that are in secondary or tertiary markets as satellite offices, which are often closer to the homes of employees. Shortening and streamlining commute times for employees can lead to less stress and more relaxed days in the office – when one chooses to be in the office.
If you’re building a remote team or closing your corporate office, consider using PON to book satellite offices close to home for your team members with one, streamlined contract. Click here to get started.