Businesses are preparing to come back to work in their office space, as Coronavirus fears and shelter in place orders begin to ease in North America.
However, many businesses will return to the office with fewer employees than when they left, with a greater number of employees who want to work from home, and with even more employees who are scared for their own health to return at all.
As a business leader, what should you be thinking about with respect to your office space, during these uncertain times?
At Upsuite we’ve fielded dozens of questions from curious business leaders trying to do right by their businesses and their teams, and we have assembled those questions here.
So, before you go back to the office, we think you should be asking the following questions:
1. Think About the Purpose of Your Office Space.
- Did you choose it because you thought you needed to?
- Is it fulfilling the promise that you once felt, or has it become less relevant?
- Is your office a place to help your employees do their best work for your business?
Our weeks away from the office have given us a great opportunity to think about what type of office will fit the purpose and promise of our business today. Now is the time to think about how your office space serves your business.
2. Think About Your Culture. How Much Does it Depend On In-Person Collaboration?
- How has working from home changed your workplace culture? Are the changes for the better? Or for the worse?
- What from this work from home experience do you want to carry forward as a permanent part of your culture?
- What do you need to get back that you have lost during this period?
- How does your current office support your culture?
Upsuite, like many businesses that we have placed in coworking offices have gone through normal meetings, delivering work to customers, team meetings, and more during shelter in place restrictions. We have managed, and even liked the flexibility of it. But as we get back to normal, and even add employees, we are thinking a lot about how our office can support our culture going forward, and we recommend that you do as well.
3. Think About Your Direct Team. Does Your Office Help You Recruit and Retain Them?
- Do your employees want to come back?
- Is your office a much better place to work than where your team lives?
- Knowing what you know now, what type of office would they design? Would they design one at all?
- Do certain teams need an office to perform well?
- Do certain people need an office to perform well?
We have seen many businesses adjust to work-from-home, and do it well. Many businesses have the tools, cultures, and people to perform well working in a more remote manner. But at the same time, many of our customers’ employees miss their coworkers, miss their community, and just simply need to get out of the house. Can a work from home culture also retain employees?
4. Think About Your Customers. Is Your Office Essential to Attracting and Retaining Them?
Every business has customers that it serves remotely – over the phone, over Zoom, and more.
Can your business support customers with a remote culture, or does it need an office for key moments in attracting and retaining key customers?
Will customers value relationships with you that are face to face and in an office more, or less now?
5. Think About Your Business. Does Your Office Generate an ROI?
In times of change, offices can become long term liabilities that hamstring businesses. As you are thinking about your office, and have some perspective, take a moment to ask:
- What does your office cost?
- Does it have a demonstrable ROI to your business?
- If your team could use the time they spent commuting for something else work-related, how would it benefit the business?
As businesses are managing cash tightly, and many are finding ways to survive, now is the time to be thinking about doing things that generate real ROI – and fast.
6. Think About Health. Does Your Office Support the Health of Your People?
Coronavirus has added a new dimension for managing an office: Managing the health of your employees who come to work every day. Though the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) continues to develop and evolve it’s standards for office health and cleanliness, at the time of writing, the CDC’s guidelines for employers are as follows:
- Take employees’ temperature and assess for symptoms prior to their starting work.
- Increase the frequency of cleaning commonly touched surfaces.
- Increase air exchange in the building.
- Send sick workers home immediately.
- Test the use of face masks to ensure they don’t interfere with workflow.
As you consider bringing employees back, are you ready for the added responsibilities that operating an office in 2020 entails?
7. Think About Flexibility. Does Your Office Provide the Flexibility That Your Business Needs During Times of Change?
Is your business legally bound to your office that you have currently? If so, for how long?
Few people have thought of offices as parts of companies that can change with the times. But in today’s office environment, there are hundreds of options to match your office space with the needs of your business, when you are able to do so.
Once you have thought about the questions we pose, know this: If your office is fulfilling it’s purpose, your team wants to come back, and it will clearly benefit your business then carry on. Come on back.
If your office has become irrelevant, is not fulfilling it’s purpose, and your team does not want to come back, work on finding a solution as soon as you can.