For some employees, working from home was a choice before the pandemic. However, in these COVID-19 times, working remotely is no longer a choice, but rather a requirement, one enabled by audio visual technology.
The work-from-anywhere experience is proving that with the right resources, keeping remote workers connected with the larger team is not only doable, it might even be preferable in some situations. The question, however, is will the surge in working remotely survive in a post-pandemic environment?
Research suggests it might. Consider these insights from Chris Herd, founder of FirstBaseHQ, who spoke to 1,000 businesses about their plans for remote work after the pandemic:
- Companies plan to reduce their commercial office space by up to 60%. If that does happen, the need for work-from-home options will be imperative.
- Benefits of working remotely include access to a larger talent pool, one that is not dependent on living in close proximity to an office. With remote working, location becomes less of a decision-making factor when hiring.
- Employees enjoy the flexibility that comes from a home office, including nixing the daily commute to and from the workplace.
- The option also presents employers with the possibility of trimming costs, perhaps by moving to a smaller office location. As many as 30% of the companies Herd spoke to contemplate closing their offices entirely, existing in a virtual-work world. Others are looking at a hybrid model, with employees coming to the office a couple of days each week or when needed.
Of course, moving to a total work-from-anywhere option may present problems for companies, particularly with culture and branding that comes from working in and from a central location. It may be that a hybrid remote/office model evolves as there are merits to both options.
The benefits to keeping the office open, if only part-time, includes:
- Company culture: Maintaining the unity that comes with active engagement between employees will be difficult in a total work-from-home strategy. Businesses may have to have a complete rethink of the way they operate if they want to maintain that cultural cohesiveness.
- Workplace injuries could also become a more prevalent problem if employees don’t have the necessary ergonomic furniture that has become a staple in offices everywhere. Companies may need to mandate workplace safety measures for remote workers.
- Burnout seems to be a distinct concern with working from home, impacting both productivity and wellness.
Audio Visual Strategies for Home and Office Work are Designed to Maintain Collaboration, Engagement, and Creativity
Luckily, strategies and resources, including audio visual technology, have been developed to address concerns related to working from home, and they work in both office and remote settings. They include:
- Staying connected and in touch: Messaging, audio and video conferencing tools, such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom, will help people and teams remain collaborative, engaged, and creative – whether they work from home or in an office with distancing, geometry, and division
- Scheduling and work hours: Working from home or an office still requires people to be on the job at the same time. Scheduling tools are necessary in both options. Remote workers can use web-based meeting scheduling tools to connect with colleagues virtually. At the office, with social distancing, safety protocols and guidelines governing how workers collaborate, apps like Steelcase ‘find’ make identifying and booking available meeting rooms even more relevant. With a simple tap, book an available room using the mobile app or by using a room scheduler adorned outside each meeting space.
- Personal time: Whether working from home or the office, it is still necessary for employees to ensure that they make time for exercise, have a proper diet, and use ergonomic furniture.
So, is working from home a permanent feature of the working experience? Many companies have found that moving to a fully remote model is something they should have done years ago, while others miss the connection that comes from the office experience. In all likelihood, it will be a hybrid situation, but it seems, based on experience and trends, that the push towards working remotely is a trend that will be with us in the post-COVID age.
Contact the experts at POI today for assistance and advice in preparing for the evolution of the work from anywhere hybrid model.