As business re-entry plans continue to be developed, owners and managers need to be prepared for requests from employees to split time working from home and the office. The answer may not be about who is asking you, but whether that specific job can sustain a remote work environment. If you feel it’s more about the ability of the employee, then maybe there is a performance issue and not a work from home issue.
It is expected that employers will encounter work from home questions, and it’s obvious why employees are asking – working from home affords more of the good things in life that we may sometimes skimp on: sleep, eating three meals, exercising, having more time with the kids, the dog, home repairs, and doctor appointments.
Working remotely can provide lifestyle opportunities – a mid-day wellness-walk to clear the mind, reduce stress or lower back pain, could even improve work productivity due to feeling better. Compare this to morning traffic, working lunches, endless meetings, and rarely getting out by the end of a shift. Employers need to take an honest look at their workforce analytics to determine if some jobs can be done well in a remote scenario. Consider the savings: reduced overhead costs for office space, rent, furniture, utilities, parking, and potentially even a reduction in medical claims. Plus, an improved lifestyle balance could mean reductions in employee absences as well.
Have you measured that certain employees working remotely are just as effective or even improved? Or, will you decide just because an in-office policy is what you have always done, this is what you will continue to do. Factor in there are real savings for the employee: reduced gas expense, car repair, tolls, office attire expense, and meal per diem. There is also a safety factor to consider – stressed or rushed employees on the phone with family, or taking a conference call, while commuting.
Before you decide your version of what’s best for the business, remember the wisdom of Albert Einstein…
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”
This pandemic has disrupted business norms, and ironically, changed the way we view business practices. Don’t rush to one answer fits all. For many companies, working remotely could improve work productivity and have a positive correlation to revenue. With the average commute being 30 minutes each way, employees would save an hour every day – which can be put back into work time.
During this time of quarantine, take a closer look at how things have been working for the business and keep an open mind about the true answers. Out of this uncertain time can come a new, improved balance that works for you, your employees, and your company.