A Year Of Survival and Firsts For All

2020 will go down in history as one of the worst years in human history. Never have we had such a globally traumatic extended period.
As employers and employees, we have all had to make adjustments, some more uncomfortable than others. Now as the cases are dropping and vaccinations are increasing, many are beginning to allow themselves to think “OK…What’s next?” in terms of business operations, social engagements, etc.

As we emerge from our forced reclusive lives and begin to re-emerge into society, many are evaluating their professional lives and whether working remotely all or some of the time is the lifestyle they are interested in.

Organizations are also evaluating the costs and benefits to full-remote teams, combination work-from-home and in-office schedules, or bringing everyone back in-office full-time. Some companies are doubling-down and saying the benefits outweigh the costs. Yes, they know they will have higher turnover and less of a “team” dynamic. But the decrease in operating costs having their teams remote is worth the pain of higher turnover. Other companies are starting to roll-out their plans for bringing everyone back for a multitude of reasons.

Whatever your thoughts are on the subject (as an employee or an employer/manager), this new dynamic is worth ruminating over as it could affect the kind of applicants your company receives and it could decrease the number of opportunities for candidates for whatever their preference is. Candidates for whatever their preference is.

Evaluating Your Work-From-Home vs. Work-From-Office Stance

We all have an opinion on remote work versus in-office work policies. Regardless if you are a CEO, Manager, or Employee, you have an opinion on this now. For some, you may have flipped your stance over the past year! Either way, consider some of these points before doubling-down.

Pro “WFH/Remote Working”

OK. You love working remotely. Or you have staff who are excelling while they have been working from home this past year. And now you are faced with an option of bringing your team back to the office. Or maybe as an employee, you are concerned your company is going to go back to “normal”.

This change in our society’s workforce dynamic is not going away. There are candidates (Job Seekers) everywhere who are requesting fully remote job opportunities. Not only does it work with their lifestyle, but now they can job search nationally! And for candidates and professionals who have killer skill sets, they are not interested in wavering. They are only looking at companies that offer remote work options. As an employer, you need to understand the new reality: there is a large pool of professionals out there that are job searching for flexible companies.

On the flip side, consider the ability to widen your job search as well. What if you can find that ideal IT professional in another state if you have a flexible work-remote policy. If you want your employees in the office, be aware you may have to compete with companies who are more flexible, which leads to a higher possibility of losing great candidates, especially since it is (currently) a candidate-market.
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, it is important to be aware of the new hiring challenges that are arising.

Pro “Working-In-Office”

For many, working at home has been awful. They struggle to separate their work and home life. Or they are unable to focus and it has been a nightmare year of trying to maintain their usual quality of work. As a manager, maybe you have no idea how to manage a remote team. Perhaps you have been burned by employees losing productivity. You may even have noticed the loss of the ever-coveted “great culture” you have fostered through the years.

These are all real concerns for people. We have heard it all. Know many, many employees cannot wait to return to the office. They enjoy their commute, their time in their office, chatting with coworkers, meeting for happy hour after work, etc.

When evaluating your company’s WFH policy, take into account the staff who miss coming to the office as well. If you decide to go fully remote for the foreseeable future, understand there will be those who will not be able to continue working for you. Some need daily human interaction and want that in their career.

Some Final Thoughts

This is a complex issue and there is not an exact science to figuring it out. Weigh the pros and cons of remote or in-office work policies.

  • Can you offer remote work for some roles and not others?
    • While we want to be consistent and fair in managing, it is not the best policy to create a mold you want everyone to fit in. We are all very different creatures and require different management styles.
  • Could you create some requirements or standards that allow employees to earn (and lose) some privileges, allowing them to choose where they work?
  • Have you asked your staff their preferences? Maybe they will surprise you!
  • Could you consider a blended schedule? 2 or 3 days remote, in-office the other days.

For the job seekers and employees out there, you have to think about this too.

  • Are you willing to pass on a great opportunity if their WFH policy does not align with your desires?
  • Have you honed your skillset enough to give you bargaining power?
    • While you may want to be given the option to work as you please, you also need to consider if your work qualifies you to negotiate. If not, you may need to suck it up and adhere to your company’s policy given your lack of bargaining chips.
  • If you moved during the pandemic because you were working remotely, are you willing to now give up your job if your company calls you back to the office now?

All things to consider. The biggest “ask” we have of you all: Consider all the options and think about what really matters. If you understand the costs and benefits of your decision and are willing to live with that decision, then by all means…full steam ahead!