Do Your Employees Want to Work in Remote Offices Now?
Here’s how to help them do it without breaking the bank
If your company is about to get back to work, congratulations. You are about to get back to business, and that is exciting.
And there is some good news. A growing number of economists and analysts expect what we will have what they are calling a V-shaped recovery. That means that even though we are currently lingering at the bottom of a V, we are about to start a rapid climb out of it because of pent-up demand for our services. Another good sign is that our economy remains surprisingly healthy. After all, the U.S. economy just added more than 200,000 jobs, against all expectations.
So get ready to rebound.
But Your Recovery Depends on Your Employees
So, things are about to get better for your company. But how are you going to make sure that happens?
Restarting a business is like restarting a car that has been sitting idly in a garage or barn for a few years. (At least, let’s go with that analogy for a minute.) You can’t just hook up jumper cables, start it up, and motor away without having something go wrong. There could be water in the gas lines, so you’ll stall. The tires might have gone a little flat or developed dry rot, so you’ll end up sitting by the road. You’re getting the idea. Getting that car humming again requires a lot of attention and care to detail. (Because we want to ditch the car analogy now, we won’t go into everything you have to do if you have an old car.)
When it comes to restarting your business, you have just as many moving parts and processes to attend to. But instead of exploring them all in this article today, let’s simplify everything and concentrate on just one fundamental activity that you have to get right . . .
You have to get your employees back to work
That’s pretty much the bottom line, right? If you want to sell more, you need to get your salesforce going again. If you want to develop new products, you need to get R&D people back at their terminals. If you want to reestablish ties with customers, you need to get people calling them, you need to get your call center up and running again. You see what we mean.
What Will Get Employees Happily and Quickly Back to Work?
KettleSpace has been researching that question, asking workers in the New York Tri-State area to name their biggest concerns about returning to work. They’re giving us a lot of answers. Some people are worried about working alongside other people on the job. Others say they are most concerned about getting on elevators or waiting for them.
But by far, the #1 concern people are telling us about is this . . .
People are worried about commuting
They’re worried about riding on trains and buses alongside other people. They’re worried about sitting on seats that might not have been properly disinfected. They’re worried about riding city subways and buses. They’re anxious about taking shuttles, cabs and cars between transportation hubs and their offices.
The result is that more people would like to spend their working time in offices that are located near their homes instead of commuting to the offices where they used to log their time.
Why Near their Homes, Instead of In Their Homes?
That’s an awfully good question. A certain number of employees got the hang of working from home offices during the pandemic, and want to continue doing it. So why do some of the people who have worked at home over the last few months now want to work in a dedicated office or workspace that is not there?
Here are some of the reasons people are citing:
“I need the structure of going somewhere every day.”
“I want to get away from my kids, even though I love them.”
“This has been driving me nuts.”
“My partner is working at home too and we’ve been bumping up against each other in areas like noise, sharing phones and equipment, and needing our own space to concentrate.”
“Two other company employees live near me here in Westchester County [north of New York City] and we’re thinking it would be great if the three of us set up a small company office we can share.”
Where Can Your People Find Remote Office Space?
People who are looking for office space near their homes are turning out to be quite resourceful.
They are finding unused desk or office space in locations like these . . .
Employee’s personal accountants, attorneys, and other professionals.
Space at your company’s vendors or suppliers that are located near your employees’ homes.
Vacant office space that your company can lease on a short-term basis.
Space at your employee’s churches, local clubs, or other options in their communities.
How Can Your Company Help Employees Find and Use Remote Offices?
Bear in mind, you can take an active role in helping your people to identify and use office spaces like those. Here are some steps to take:
Contact vendors, clients, customers and other outside entities and arrange for your people to use space in their locations. Bear in mind that as a company, you probably have a wider net of contacts than your employees do, so you can find more options.
Require employees to get approval from you before they begin to use any remote working spaces. You want to perform due diligence to be sure your people will be safe.
Consider making a monthly sum available to your employees. Tell them that they are free to spend this “allowance” to rent desk or office space, provided your company approves the arrangement before they begin using it.
Try to negotiate short-term or month-by-month rental agreements. Be sure to create a letter of agreement that you sign with the entity that is providing the facilities you will use. That letter should specify not only rental and other costs, but also a termination agreement. Perhaps you and the renter can terminate the agreement on 30 days, notice. The letter of agreement should also spell out legal liabilities in the event that one of your employees, or that someone who is visiting them for business purposes, become injured while working there.
Visit the space your employees will use, and have them visit it too, before agreeing to use it. Be sure to find facilities that are pleasant, accessible, nicely located, and, if possible, equipped with WiFi and other technology they will use to do their jobs.
Find out how the owner of the facilities your employees will use intends to keep the facilities cleaned and maintained according to all mandated anti-virus protocols required by OHSA.
And Consider Showing Some Extra Care for Your Employees Today
It is thoughtful and caring to show your employees that you care for them too, by offering additional resources they might need.
You don’t need to ask your employees whether they have experienced excessive anxiety or stress during their months of working at home, but you can send employees a link to the American Psychological Association’s online Psychologist Locator, for example. Or to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
We’ve all been through a lot! Let’s all get back to work with the kind of positive outlook that can help our companies not only survive, but succeed in the very exciting days ahead.
And Remember, That Is What KettleSpace Does
We are here to help you identify and utilize the remote working facilities that meet your needs and fit your budget. This is what we do!