Is Working from Office an Outdated Way of Doing Your Job?
In a fast-paced and connected world, working from an office may seem antiquated. While the pandemic was disruptive and devastating, it answered the question of whether working remote would sink businesses. The findings indicate that was a misconception.
Productive and effective work can happen anywhere, as long as employees have the right technology tools and the company pivots its culture to exist beyond four walls.
With new workforce trends and a desire to move toward hybrid, how outdated is working from an office?
The State of Work: From Minimal Remote to a Significant Share
COVID-19 accelerated remote work and reframed it to no longer being a perk or something that only a few did. According to a NY Times article, before the pandemic, only 4 percent of U.S. employees worked exclusively remote.
Workplaces are reopening, but most staff aren’t rushing back to a cubicle. A Pew Research Center study found that 59 percent of workers are mostly remote, slightly down from 71 percent in October 2020. Now that people have a choice, they want to stay home.
Remote work is convenient, cost-effective, and offers people a better work-life balance. However, there are some negatives. The Pew study referenced above revealed that 60 percent of remote employees feel less connected to coworkers.
So, what are the keys to ensuring equity for all employees, whether they are working from an office or remote? And what office culture shifts need to happen to facilitate a new hybrid workforce?
How To Empower Employees No Matter Where They Work
Most companies have shifted their perspective on work in the past few years. They realized that productivity, efficiency, and engagement could happen anywhere. Successfully making the shift to remote or hybrid work is a win for all parties.
However, organizations should be able to provide what workers need in terms of technology and culture.
Well-Equipped Employees Thrive in Any Setting
The ease of access to technology tools is greater than ever. The pandemic accelerated the adoption of cloud-based platforms. Those products also got very innovative, seeking to meet the needs of an evolving workforce.
The race to get everyone ready to work from home wasn’t always smooth. Some IT departments had to choose speed over quality or integration. Now it’s time to reevaluate those pieces so that employees can do their job from wherever.
Different departments need software that’s role-specific, such as CRMs, marketing automation, or accounting solutions. Other pieces of the technology puzzle are enterprise-wide. Start with assessing this group and consider the benefits of a unified communications (UC) platform.
A UC solution has all communication tools in one, and that drives productivity and easy access. But if this has become a pain point rather than a benefit, it’s time to consider alternatives.
Here are the features a UC product should provide:
- One login to use voice, chat, video, screen sharing, and file management
- Capabilities to use tools from wherever including a desktop and mobile app
- Video conferencing that’s simple enough to start a meeting with a click
- Team chat to facilitate fast internal communication
- Screen sharing to support collaboration between remote and in-office employees
- File backup and collaboration to create a single source of truth for documents and allow for simultaneous editing
- App integrations to connect email, CRMs, and other technology
If you currently rely on multiple platforms for these functions, your staff may be frustrated and less efficient. Bringing everything together eliminates these usability struggles. It also provides connection opportunities for workers to keep communicating and collaborating, and it doesn’t need to happen in an office.
Beyond a technology upgrade, your culture will need one, too.
Expanding Culture Through the Screen
Another necessary pivot for companies that realize working from the office shouldn’t be mandatory is cultural. An organization’s culture should be something people recognize every day, no matter where they sit. It starts from the top, and leaders must be aware that being inclusive and equitable is critical.
Inclusive and equitable are guiding principles for your new culture. All employees get a chance for recognition, growth, and upward mobility. Some of the best ways to ensure this culture permeates are:
- Making sure leaders and managers have regular one-on-ones with all staff
- Finding ways to incorporate communication technology into everyday work, such as creating specific chat channels for work and fun
- Having monthly all-hands meetings where leaders talk about what’s happening transparently
- Encouraging relationship-building with virtual activities so that everyone can participate
- Taking the pulse of employees and their preferences around work models
- Setting goals with employees that support their growth and the company’s
There are some cultural shifts that should occur in the office as well.
The New Office Culture
The office dynamic should meet the demands of the modern workforce. For those that come into the office often or seldom, you should consider these changes:
- Revamping conference rooms to be remote-enabled with new audio-visual equipment
- Reworking layouts to give people more space and flexibility
- Providing places in the office for workers to take breaks and recharge
- Rethinking how the office worked or didn’t before the pandemic (you can find this out by surveying staff)
Working from the Office Isn’t Over, But It Looks Different
Some workers and companies will always prefer in-office working. Others have adjusted to a new schedule and want to keep it this way. Working from the office isn’t dead, but it looks a lot different. Embracing this is key to thriving for your staff and business.