Before the COVID-19 crisis arrived, many companies had experimented to some degree with remote working conditions. While the intentions were good, the idea didn’t really catch in the way that companies might have envisioned.
The pandemic basically crammed the idea down the throats of Corporate America as tens of millions of people transitioned to work-from-home mode virtually overnight. No matter what industry you work in, things changed. The one service we need the most right now is healthcare. Healthcare professionals were forced to quickly adapt to what has become known as telehealth visits. In the future, 30% of all healthcare appointments might be completed through Zoom or telephone calls. It is simply a smarter way of treating patients.
It has been estimated that approximately 20% of the American workforce will never return to a traditional office setting. People working in sectors such as finance, insurance, and IT have proven to be just as effective working from home as they were occupying space in an office building.
It won’t work for everyone or every company. There will always have the need for face-to-face business meetings. There will always be those who must be present in their building. While COVID-19 may have inspired a new work-from-home model, it was only made possible because we already had the technology to do so. Zoom is not new by any means. Many companies have been using Zoom meetings since 2012.
Here are many important considerations in determining whether you should adapt to an at-home work mode and ditch the office. The first is to decide what the purpose of your physical office is. Is it a center for creating culture and a sense of belonging? Do you really need the real estate investment of a building and all the accessories it takes to make it functional? In a new Covid-safe environment, how much space should be allocated between workspaces. Are common kitchens and shared refrigerators safe? Do we really need them? How will training be accomplished and the development of mentor relationships?
Other considerations include what automation, digitization, and other technologies are available to help at-home workers succeed and thrive. Major retailers are increasingly automating shopping and checkout processes. Do they really need brick and mortar stores? Look at the success of Amazon. People enjoy ordering at any time of the day or night and having their product arrive at their front doorstep. Salesclerks just might become a thing of the past unless we retrain them to serve another function.
Now is the time to look at the benefits of work-from home employees as well as retraining current staff for new roles. Investing in existing employees can foster loyalty, customer satisfaction, and positive brand perception.