Another, perhaps better, way to state this question might be ‘should we go back to the office?’ given that most professional and service-based businesses have spent large parts of 2020 and 2021 working from home and other forms of working remotely.
It’s a tricky question and one that can only be made with full knowledge of each organisation’s individual requirements. But we can share our opinion nonetheless.
If your business or team works on physical products, or if it requires more than usual amounts of creative collaboration, then yes, it should probably go back to the office. If not, you’re probably better off working remotely. Why is this? Simply put, unless the productivity benefits of being in an office together outweigh it, employees will be (generally) happier working from home than from an office. The last two years have shown us that much!
There are a few reasons that organisations are reluctant to move to remote work. Some of these are valid (productivity concerns in creative organisations), and some of them aren’t. We’ll tackle three: laziness, what to do with the office, and communication.
The first objection, laziness, is a common claim amongst some middle managers: if we can’t watch our workers, how do we know they’re working? Simple: watch for results. Is the work still being done? Great. If it isn’t? Discuss the problem. You don’t need to know whether Sam logs on at 9:06 rather than 8:52. That’s kind of the whole point. It allows us to focus far more on results coming out, rather than hours put in.
Secondly, what to do with the office. Our suggestion is to get rid of it. Put the people in their houses or coworking spaces, put the laptops on their desks and the servers in the cloud, then get rid of the office. We’ve been office-free now (apart from a virtual office from the wonderful ServCorp) for four years now.
A business might spend close to $10,000 per year on rent and related costs to maintain an office and desk per employee, and taken in this light it might be possible to spend that money more wisely. Employee perks, or even an annual company retreat, could be afforded even if the company wants to pocket some of those savings for profit as well.
Finally, communication. You might suggest that your business relies hugely on in-person meetings and ‘water-cooler’ chats to keep people up to date. That’s a perfectly valid way to do things, but it’s not a reason to stay in the office. If you’ve been disappointed by video meetings and Slack chatrooms as a method of communicating, beware of a simple trap: that was during a pandemic. Give it another go.
Another key aspect of reducing the need to communicate as urgently is software that keeps everybody on the same page without communication. Every organisation that has successfully made the transition from in-office to remote work has also made another more subtle transition. They’ve moved from meetings and emails to being driven more by their use of project management software. Meetings and emails are still required, of course, but they are much less needed once you can immediately see what everybody is up to rather than having to ask for that information!
With this final objection, Loop Foundry is in a unique place at the intersection of business and technology to help you find, build, or customise the project and job management software that you need. Get in touch and we can start making the remote work journey a little easier.