Now that more businesses including pubs and restaurants have been allowed to reopen their doors, companies are being urged to get workers back into the office – with Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying: ‘people should start to think about getting back to work’. But Boris has been wrong about a few subjects before, well more than a few actually . So, forgive me if I don’t entirely buy into his rhetoric. Perhaps Boris is more concerned about his ratings than the well-being of his electorate?
Faster internet connections, messaging and video apps, and the rise of collaborative and monitoring software are allowing some firms to do away with their offices entirely. In fact, only 13% of staff surveyed in a report by recruitment firm Robert Walters even want to go back to the office. Just think how lovely the morning commute would be for the few people that really need to go back to this:
I’m the one at the bottom, centre of this picture by the way.
According to an article on the website www.thisismoney.co.uk published this week, over half of firms surveyed will look to downsize their offices as more people elect to work from home. And why not? They can also slash travel budgets as many meetings can easily be done on Zoom or MS Teams. Some good must come from the cloud of COVID. The article does muse about whether this may be used by some firms to reduce pay, but only if they off-set these reductions with soft benefits related to well-being of staff, such as support for home working and flexi-hours. Speak to the thousands of people that commute more than an hour to London or Manchester or Edinburgh each day because they can’t afford to live close to work and see how many would bite your arm off for such a deal.
There’s a growing trend for firms to ditch their offices entirely, but is that good or bad?
Take a look at firms, such as Automattic (WordPress), employing over 900 staff all over the World. But no offices. Instead these firms will happily pay their employees to work from home, to have local space or will pay for their refreshments if they want to work from a coffee house.
Another example: Buffer, founded in 2015 is a social media platform with over $16 million in annual revenues and 5 million registered users. Buffer is a fully virtual company with employees working from 50 different countries across the world.
Zway (https://www.zwayonline.com) supports thousands of clients but has no single office. One of the founders has written a book at how his success really started as he worked from a shed, in his underpants at the bottom of his garden. Having a diverse and distributed workforce gives firms, like Zway, the option to match talent to opportunity. If you are good enough, it shouldn’t matter where you live. Zway has staff in locations across UK, Germany, South Africa, Ukraine and US.
The COVID-19 pandemic has expedited changes in our society that were already happening. Perhaps it would have taken 5 years, now it has happened in 5 months. The speed of change has caused some employers to question the validity. They worry about productivity when staff work permanently from home. In fact, in the same report, nearly 60% of firms surveyed felt this way. However, many of the firms also said that so far has been so good and most employees are showing equal, if not higher levels of productivity than before.
One word of caution here. Working from home is not the same as home working. In order to make this new paradigm shift permanent and effective, we must start to consider how we enable people to be “home working”. Without preparation, a worker that elects to “work from home” can go AWOL. However, assuming the home environment has been prepared to support effective working and the firm invests in the best software solutions for team collaboration, presence, access and security, this will not happen.
Zway provides everything required for the small business home worker to ensure each person is connected to everyone and everything else. Anyone working from home can be as effective as their office-based colleagues as long as the home environment allows. Of course, it is hard to employ (for example) telephone-based call centre staff when small children are playing nearby, but all things being equal, the home worker is safer and more productive using Zway. In this case, Zway brings the office environment to your home and acts like an old-fashioned “Intranet” might do.
It takes, on average, just over an hour to set up Zway to hold all of your company information and then you can start to overlay your own business processes onto the platform. Automate your business your way with Zway today. Click hereto enable your free trial and then here to set up your free one-hour consultation and support call to ensure you get the best out of Zway.