It’s no secret that COVID has completely changed how some companies and their employees are working right now. For many, requiring employees to work from home has become the status quo – at least for the foreseeable future. But eventually we’ll return to in-person interactions – interviews, meetings, and for some, returning to the office full time. The question remains – how will your company shift?
Some employees LOVE working from home, while others are really struggling – missing the in-person office interactions with their coworkers and clients. Then there are others who enjoy the flexibility of being able to choose where they work – a hybrid model if you will. As we move closer to fully reopening and getting some sort of normalcy back, employers are going to be faced with the decision to choose how their business will operate – which way will they shift?
Work from Home. Many companies are seeing the benefit to a remote workforce. Not only are businesses saving thousands on operating costs and overhead, but many employees are much happier being able to work from a home office. In a recent article by the Hartford Business Journal, workers who once commuted by car but now work from home are saving a total of $758 million per day, according to research from freelancing platform Upwork. The savings comprise gas, car maintenance and repairs, as well as the costs that driving imposes on society, such as congestion and pollution.
The biggest savings however is actually time. Every hour of commuting by car costs Americans $12.50. That adds up, given Americans’ long commutes. We spent an average of 54.2 minutes commuting daily in 2018. So, in addition to saving money on commuting, employees are able to spend more time with their friends, families and yes even their pets! A few other perks include being able to handle some of your personal affairs more easily, such as scheduling a plumber to fix that leaky faucet or being able to toss a load of laundry in between calls, and even being able to walk your dog at lunch time or monitor your kids if they are doing online learning.
Returning to the Office. Many extroverts are itching to get into their traditional office routine. They miss seeing coworkers, clients, vendors, etc. face to face. Phone calls and video conferences just don’t cut it for some employees, and they need the camaraderie and collaboration that being in the office provides. For some people, it’s going to be awhile before they feel comfortable being in an office, but others need that type of environment to be productive and happy.
Not everyone can manage the distractions that also come from working from home. Being in an office environment keeps them focused and on task. They can separate their work life from their home life. Additionally, returning to the office is a boost to the economy, workers who commute spend money on transportation, morning coffee, lunch or other conveniences that are in the vicinity of the office.
Hybrid Model. Offering employees the flexibility to choose their schedule may be a great shift for many employers. Not only will it allow you to stagger the number of employees reporting to the office each day, but it will make easing back into face to face interactions easier for some people. Some employees may choose to work more days in the office or more days from home, but it offers them the choice and freedom to set their schedule. If you need to hold an in-person meeting, you can set certain days of the week where meeting can be scheduled while other days are off limits. There are a lot of options and flexibility that come with the hybrid model, but in order for businesses to do this effectively they will need to have some serious planning sessions around it. Employees will need to make a decision and stick to it. Imagine having an office for 400 employees – one day 50 people show up and then Sue & John decide they would rather be in the office. Will it have to be all or nothing? Will employees need to commit to being all remote, in the office on Mondays only or full on office dwellers? If I were a betting man, HR teams are already hashing out these details in anticipation!
However your business chooses to shift, there is no right or wrong answer. In fact, at KMR Executive Search, I’ve just started doing in person interviews again, but I don’t hold it against anyone who isn’t comfortable meeting face to face just yet.
Will continuing to work remote require some changes to how you conduct interviews (see my previous blog on the topic) or how you onboard new employees? – Of course! But for many it’s also a great opportunity for Human Resources to dust off the employee handbook and make some updates (sorry HR). If you want to attract top talent, honoring how they want to work should be a top priority.
How is your business planning to shift in 2021- work from home, hybrid, or in office?