9 June 2020
After the quarantine, things will return to normal (or whatever the new normal will look like). The compulsory stay-at-home laws will be repealed and some other restrictions will be lifted making return to regular work for many employees across Europe the next logical thing to do.
It is therefore highly important for businesses to make proper plans for a reintroduction to life in the office. These back-to-work plans must ensure safety for the workers, encouragement for them as well as profitability for businesses. Failure to do so can prove dangerous to the health of the workers and the business itself.
Not all businesses can be profitably operated through remote working, and the return to normalcy is a breath of fresh air for such organizations. But how can this transition back to office life be carried out in a safe yet productive manner?
The Covid-19 situation has helped many businesses create more productive work routines and also rethink what is important and what is not. For companies who the majority of their workforce can work remotely, it may help save the cost of acquiring large office spaces and other infrastructure.
Another thing the pandemic did was to force companies to better the communication between employees and management. The importance of effective communication at work has been realized by many business leaders and it is only wise to not relax it post Covid-19. The quarantine has seen many organizations communicate much more frequently with their staff over the last couple of months than they did before the lockdown. Keeping the lines of communication open between leadership and staff will ensure increased productivity.
Positive health practices have also been reinforced in many businesses as a result of the pandemic.
The transition back to the regular office work may be very stressful if care is not taken. The secret to return to normal work in a stress free manner is to have effective short term and long term plans in place for the safety of workers and for the productivity of the organization. Many things have been learned over the last couple of months and new ways of doing things have emerged. Organizations should incorporate these lessons learned into their back-to-work plans.
Working remotely has been the only option for many businesses since the pandemic, but should this trend continue after the lockdown has been lifted? Should remote working take the place of working centrally? Truth is remote work should be seen as an option and not as a policy.
There are many reasons why it may be more profitable for companies to work in the office rather than work remotely.
One of such reasons is a sense of community. Working in an office space creates an air of camaraderie and it goes a long way in ensuring that the work cultures of organizations remain entrenched in workers. When teammates only communicate via video calls or chat, it dampens work culture and that sense of community as a result of being physically in the same place is lost as well.
There are more distractions working remotely than working in an office environment. Because of this, work that should take two hours to complete in an office setting without distractions may take well over five hours to accomplish when done at home due to various distractions and lack of supervision. For a lot of employees who can work efficiently without supervision, working remotely may not be so much of a bad thing but what of those who need to be monitored closely before they can deliver?
Another reason why working in the office is more profitable than remote work is that work can be managed more easily and the productivity of workers can also be better evaluated. Workers can also be held accountable more effectively if they are working in an office. Remote work on the other hand may not be as easy to manage as many of the traditional management strategies won't work with a remote team. It is quite harder to hold remote workers accountable.
Security issues are a major concern when it comes to working remotely. Theft of company hardware and sensitive data is a big source of worry. It may be more profitable to keep some sensitive information and hardware within the confines of an office building where they are relatively safe from physical theft and online hacking.
Returning to work in the regular office environment is of utmost necessity and the fact that remote working has helped manage some things during the quarantine shouldn't mean the demise of regular office work. Remote work should be seen as an option in running businesses and not a replacement of usual office work.