Employers will have to weigh the pros and cons of heading back to the office
Remote work was a growing trend and a great perk for years. Then the coronavirus pandemic struck and work from home setups and virtual offices became the norm overnight.
Now that the pandemic is ending, a gigantic, world-changing question looms ahead for many companies: how should they continue to operate going forward? The question usually boils down to one of three options:
- Stay with the remote work model.
- Return to an in-person office.
- Adopt a hybrid solution that incorporates both options.
Each of these has its upsides and downsides. For some companies, the transition to remote work was seamless and there’s no need to go back. For others, the adjustment has been cumbersome and in-person interactions and creative sessions are severely missed.
The truth is, neither remote, nor in-person, nor even hybrid work are perfect solutions for every person and every business. With that said, here are some of the biggest pros and cons of each of the above models.
Remote Work Post Covid-19
Remote work continues to be a growing trend thanks to both current technology and the pandemic. Here are some of the pros and cons that should be kept in mind when considering the jump to going fully remote.
- Remote work eliminates the need for commutes and gives employees a greater sense of control over their work schedule.
- Remote work has 25% lower turnover rates and 76% of employees are more willing to stay with a remote-friendly employer.
- Remote work can be a tremendous expense saver, as it completely removes the need to pay for office space and all of its accompanying costs.
- Logistically, many pieces of software struggle to keep up with a remote setting and may even have shortcomings that do not allow things like file-sharing.
- Remote employees can struggle with work-life balance and may not be able to fully unplug from work.
- It’s difficult to monitor work hours, employee health, and other factors that are much easier to see in real-time in an office setting.
In-Person Work Post Covid-19
In-person work is as old as civilization itself. Human beings love to congregate and work together with a beehive mentality. While this may be traditional, though, it still comes with both its benefits and its baggage.
- In-person offices allow your employees to benefit from social interactions, serendipitous collaboration, and the creative enhancement of working alongside others.
- Communication isn’t a major concern in an office setting, as everyone is in close proximity and does not need to utilize complex digital solutions to stay in touch.
- You can still utilize many remote tech advantages in an office while also benefiting from having a focused, work-only environment.
- In-person offices are expensive and require your workforce to live locally and commute every day.
- Urban and overpopulated areas — where collective workspaces tend to be located — can contribute to the spread of disease, which means in-person offices will require extra levels of cleaning and sanitation.
- In-person workplaces may force you to make a blanket decision to require employees to get vaccinated.
Hybrid Work Post Covid-19
As new as it may sound, many companies were already utilizing a hybrid model before the pandemic started. The need for occasional meetings and other in-person interactions made a fully remote model difficult, but a fully in-person model unnecessary. As in most cases, there are both pros and cons that come with a hybrid work model.
- A hybrid model allows you to maintain a healthier workspace by avoiding overcrowding and having even slightly sick employees work from home until they are well enough to come back to work.
- By maintaining a hybrid option, you remain ready to respond to another pandemic-like catastrophe by going fully remote when needed.
- The hybrid option allows workers to maintain balance by benefitting from in-person creative sessions while also isolating themselves on the homefront to focus on individual work when necessary.
- Going hybrid still restricts your employees to a specific geographic area, naturally reducing your available talent pool.
- Hybrid models can make group meetings more difficult to orchestrate, as everyone will not be at the office at any given moment.
- If you go the hybrid route, you’ll need to maintain both a physical and virtual infrastructure for your team to operate within.
Inventing the Workplace of the Future
Personalization isn’t just a marketing focus these days. It’s a company-wide evolution. With so many options available, each business must blaze its own trail into the new normal.
For some, that will be sticking with the fully remote work model. For others, it will involve a return to in-person workspaces that still utilize remote technology. Still, others will incorporate powerful hybrid models that allow them to capitalize on the strengths of both the remote and in-person options.
At the end of the day, each situation will need to be tailored to the needs of that company. However, whereas before the pandemic both the hybrid and remote options were largely theoretical, now each company has a clear, experiential idea of what they’re choosing from as they move forward.
By Indiana Lee, BOSS contributor