RETURNING TO THE OFFICE AFTER COVID: Small Business Owner Considerations
Most companies considering a return to the office this spring will likely offer one of three arrangements.
Full-time return to the physical office for all
A flexible, hybrid approach with some employees in-office and some working from home
A fully-remote approach with few (if any) in-office hours
No matter the approach an organization takes, planning the return to work will require thought, adjustment and accommodations to ensure the safety, productivity and confidence of the employees returning. Full-Time In-Office Workforce
As a small business considers a plan for a 100% in-office return, the following questions come to mind:
Does the company headcount allow everyone to come in and remain safely distance?
Can employees arrange their schedules and remain productive?
Does your office have common areas, such as conference rooms or a pantry, that require adjustment to promote safety?
Did the company include safety accommodations for the physical office in the 2021 budget?
What policies must the company develop to not only keep employees safe, but demonstrate that all reasonable precautions were taken? For example, consider masks and the policy if someone refuses to wear a mask.
In light of these considerations, many small businesses that never considered a move to a completely remote workforce may now consider how such an arrangement may affect their business and bottom line. Some big companies, like Twitter, Square, and Salesforce have already announced the move a “remote first” culture, but while this may seem attractive for various reasons, it’s not a simple decision, not a one-sided consideration. Remote work requires extra effort in several areas to best replicate the beneficial social aspects of the office. In addition, keeping everyone productive requires a significant and ongoing commitment to a robust tech stack. Fully Remote Workforce If you’re considering moving to 100% remote operations, the following questions come to mind:
What, if any, physical office space will the company maintain for in-person meetings or events?
What are the terms for the for the company’s current physical office space?
How will the company encourage and promote the unique office culture in a remote environment, ensuring the team still fees connected and invested to the company’s goals?
What social programs or events will the company employ to combat some of the downsides of remote work (isolation, under-communication, culture disconnect)?
What departments will require the most support in the changeover to remote work?
Every company return will look different, but all deserve to remain comfortable, safe and well-implemented. No matter what path the organization takes back to the office, a good plan will benefit the company, the employees and the bottom line.