How Long Can Your Company Continue to Work from Anywhere (or Nowhere or Someplace)?

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“Tech companies are ending leases and consolidating offices as remote work is here to stay,” an article that Ari Levy wrote for CNBC on July 13th, reports that more companies are planning to let their employees work from home until the pandemic recedes. In the meanwhile, those companies are not renewing their leases.

On a certain level, that kind of “wait and see” strategy makes sense. Why sign a lease today when your company could get a better deal in six or eight months, for example? And why plan to spend $8,000, $10,000 or more every month to keep renting an office suite when maybe you can just shut down and pay nothing?

To Plan or Not to Plan?

Maybe there is nothing wrong with not renewing your lease, and maybe there is nothing wrong with allowing your employees and colleagues to continue to work from home indefinitely. However, we are not sure that not planning what to do – just saying, “we’ll wait and see” – is a good way to run a business.

One reason is that unless you’re planning, you leave your enterprise open to uncertainties and surprises. Another is that even if your employees aren’t complaining that they don’t know what their jobs will look like in six or eight months, you can’t expect them to live with uncertainty forever. They have their own lives and decisions to make – are their kids going back to school next month, for example, and how long can they set aside part of their home space for work? They deserve to have some idea of where your company is heading.

Remember, You Can Plan for Uncertainty

So even though you and your company might not be ready to commit to certain decisions like renewing your lease right now, that doesn’t mean you have to stop planning entirely. We don’t know your situation, but we do know that you are juggling a lot of “moving parts” as you plan.

Even in an uncertain time, understanding what those factors are and planning around them as best you can be the best way to run your business. Here are some considerations to keep in mind as you make your plans.

What Is the cost of closing and reopening your company’s facilities?

Even though closing down locations looks attractive, doing so is probably not “free.” You could need to move company equipment, store it somewhere, then pay to move it all back to a new location. It is smartest to know what those costs will be and to factor them into your plans.

Can you negotiate a lease ahead of time instead of keeping plans on hold?

Granted, you might get a lower rent or other concessions if you wait to renegotiate your current lease in a few months. But you might also be able to sit down with your landlord and negotiate a workable deal now. (You and your landlord are both reasonable people, right?) Taking the uncertainty out of your future could be a very good thing for you, your company, and your employees too.

How can your employees help you plan?

What do your employees want to do, when do they want to do it, and how? Although you can’t always make every employee 100% satisfied with your company’s plans, you can invite them to take an active part in your planning. And if you do, they will probably feel better about your plans, because they had a say in creating them.

If you talk with your employees and invite them to take part in the planning process, you could discover a lot of ideas – and worries – that should factor into your plans. Maybe a certain percentage of your employees . . .

- Really want to continue to work from home, so you can save the cost of giving them desk space in your offices.

- Are nearing retirement age, and the pandemic experience has convinced them to retire now.

- Will need to continue to home school their children, so they want to drop back to part-time schedules now.

- Have specific worries and concerns you don’t know about, such as reluctance to take public transportation or ride in your building’s elevators.

What flexible solutions can factor into your plans?

Fortunately, we are no longer operating in a business environment where the only two options are to either sign a lease, or not to sign one. You now have other options that can help you plan more effectively – and contain costs and make your people happier too – that can include . . .

- Remote, on-demand office space rentals that are close to their homes.

- Other companies’ offices that you borrow or barter for.

- Short-term cooperative office shares that your employees arrange with their neighbors or friends.

If you are planning what to do next as your company returns to work, please remember that our solution-oriented planners can be a great resource for you. This is what we do and there is no obligation.

Let us help you make smart plans for the exciting weeks ahead when you will get back up to speed.

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