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Going back to the office: is it right for your business?

With things starting to get back to normal, you might be wondering what the future looks like for your business. Should you go back to the office, or is remote working the way forward? Here’s what you need to think about when planning for coming out of lockdown.

Why ‘It’s the way we’ve always done it’ shouldn’t be your reason to return 

If part of your reasoning for returning to the office is that ‘It’s the way we’ve always done it’, then you might need to rethink. There has been a shift during the pandemic which has prioritised a more even work-life balance, and it's something that employees have really responded to. 

According to a recent study, 1 in 4 employees have said that they would leave their job if flexible working schemes were not made available to them. In addition, 41% of workers believe that their employer is likely to stick with flexible working hours permanently. If your business doesn’t offer remote working, and your competitors are, that could be a powerful incentive for your employees to leave.

For your business, this means seriously thinking about the reasons you need staff in the office. For a quarter of employees, offering flexible working hours and remote working could be the difference between sticking with your company, and looking for opportunities elsewhere.

Looking at the challenges

For the majority of companies, the pandemic forced remote working to be implemented in a very short space of time. This means that there may have been some teething problems for companies at the beginning of the pandemic, or issues that have lasted throughout. When you’re thinking about whether to return to the office or stick with remote working, it’s worth looking at these challenges.

With remote working, ask yourself:

  • What problems do you encounter on a daily basis?

  • Which issues severely impact the way that your business operates

  • How easy has it been for employees to connect and collaborate?

The final question is an important one. If you implemented remote working quickly, you may have managed throughout the pandemic, but feel that it’s not comparable to how you were working as a business before. 

The solution to this might be using a service like Microsoft Teams, to help everyone stay connected and collaborate no matter where they are. If you feel like you’re struggling to collaborate, Transcendit can help introduce Microsoft Teams to your business.

Figuring out the benefits

Next, you need to figure out the benefits of working from the office. It’s absolutely vital you think about how working from the office will benefit your business; how it could improve things financially, and from an operational perspective (for management, staff and customers). If you’re trying to figure out the benefits to working from the office, here are a few questions to get you started.

With working from the office:

  • What would your business gain?

  • How would returning to the office improve your operations?

  • How would things improve for management, staff and customers?

Here, there is a certain amount of weighing up to do. Figuring out what your business would gain from returning to the office is a broad question, and it needs to be weighed up against what your business would lose. 

Thinking about the experiences of returning to the office for management, staff and customers is vital. It might be that returning to the office would improve things for management, but worsen things for employees, and have little effect on your customers. Considering every group of people within your company will help to identify the right choice for your business.

Asking your employees

The final and most important part of deciding whether to return to the office is to communicate openly with your employees. Let them know that this is something that you’re considering, and ask their opinion. This could be done through a meeting, but an anonymous survey might help staff to communicate more honestly. 

It’s important to ask employees not only what they want, but why they want it. Ask for the details, so that you can understand exactly what your staff need moving forward. 

If they want to return to the office, it could be that they don’t have a suitable workspace, or that they need a better way to collaborate; it might be that they miss the culture and the human contact. If they want to keep working remotely, it might be that they’re thinking of moving, or they have more time with their pets, or have found it better for parenting. 

Identifying the reasons why your staff want remote working or office working can help you to find solutions. Whether you return to the office, work remotely or go for a blended approach, make sure that you know the reasons why. 

Struggling with collaboration? Give us a call on 0191 482 0444 and ask about Microsoft Teams

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