In the early days of the pandemic, many businesses went fully remote. Offices stood empty, and the rent to keep them was a total loss. Now, some businesses are urging employees back to the office, while others are giving up their leases in order to invest in a fully-virtual model. Which model should your business choose? Give up your office space, or not?
There’s no one right answer. It depends on your type of business, the expenses of each, and what will help your employees the most. You have three main options: fully remote, fully in-person, or hybrid.
Option 1: Go Remote
Many businesses discovered over the course of the pandemic that their office space wasn’t truly necessary. Employees were happy to say goodbye to a daily commute, eat a cheaper lunch in their own kitchen, and be on hand in case children needed help.
If this has been your experience, giving up the office may not cost you anything. Many employees report increased productivity when working from home, away from ringing phones and distracting conversations. Most office activities can be easily done at home, with the help of Zoom and other coworking software. You can also take advantage of the opportunity to hire employees from all over the country, gathering the best talent available instead of only workers in your city. Especially if you were previously based in an expensive urban center, the savings in rent can be enormous.
Of course, you will have to invest in all the necessary tools to help your employees succeed at home. This may include computers for your team, software, professional phone systems, and more. Giving up rent does not mean you no longer have to provide the tools your workers need. And you may need additional tools to allow everyone to work seamlessly in tandem.
Option 2: Keep Your Office Space
A fully-remote office comes with its cons, however. If you frequently work as a team, with many meetings, you set your employees up for Zoom fatigue and isolation. Employees may report that they have trouble collaborating as seamlessly over the internet. Some employees also may find their homes more distracting than the office. For some, getting out of the house and to the office each day was an important ritual, encouraging work-life division and allowing a social outlet.
If your business regularly works with clients, having an office where you can meet them may be essential. The same is true if you have a lot of physical material you need to store and work on.
Given the increase in teleworking, commercial real estate prices have dropped in the past year. So if you’re thinking of opening a new office, it may be more affordable than ever.
However, given the popularity of working from home, some employees won’t like this option. Increasingly, employers are improving offices to tempt workers back. If you’re competing with remote jobs for employees, you have to make your office appealing and pleasant. Consider quiet areas, engaging meeting spaces, and amenities like social spaces or even childcare.
Option 3: A Hybrid Office
Given the pros and cons of virtual and in-person work, is it possible to knit together a hybrid which includes the benefits of each? Possibilities include:
- Letting employees choose whether to be fully virtual or fully in-person
- Having employees work at home some days and at the office some days
- Having employees work at home except for meeting days
Unfortunately, in some ways you experience the cons of both systems here as well. If there are times when all employees have to be in the office, then you still need enough office space for all of them. And if everyone has to be in range of the workplace, you miss out on non-local candidates.
If employees aren’t all in the office at the same time, you can practice “hot desking” to save space. For instance, you could simply have a number of workstations, and whoever comes in that day can sit at any desk. Or you could have a desk used by one employee Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and another employee on Tuesday and Thursday. Some employees don’t like using a space they can’t personalize, but they may find the choice to telework on other days an adequate counterbalance.
When setting up your hybrid workplace, consider how you’ll juggle the costs of both sides: office space on the one hand, teleworking software and supplies on the other. Cutting down on the size of your office may help.
The Best Decision for Your Business
In the end, many factors will go into your decision, and there isn’t one right answer. Talk to your employees about how they work best. If most of your employees are telling you the same thing, you might have your answer. If not, see if there is a hybrid solution everyone can work with.
For all your business decisions, a good financial advisor can help you run the numbers. We can set you up with someone with experience in helping business owners optimize their bottom line. For more information, contact us today.