Many sources have been predicting a rise in remote and flexible working for years, but the Covid-19 pandemic has forced many businesses to embrace this way of working sooner than they might have liked.
In spite of that, many businesses may find themselves pleasantly surprised at how well their workforce has adapted and may now be facing the question of what approach to take going forward.
While every business is different, for those that are able to be more flexible there are several questions to ask themselves going forward.
Will flexible working require the purchase of new equipment/ software?
When it became clear that the UK would be moving into a state of lockdown, many businesses will have spent a large amount of time and money to ensure their employees had the equipment they needed to work from home.
In one sense, this may add to the argument that, with the equipment already in place, it makes sense to offer employees the chance to work from home. However, it’s worth considering whether there is any other equipment that helps your employees work more efficiently that you have been managing without during this period.
It is also worth considering other costs that may be pushed onto your employees should you move to a 100% work-from-home approach, such as purchase of office furniture (e.g. desk and office chair) and ongoing costs such as broadband. You will need to consider whether you want to offer employees any kind of allowance to cover these costs.
Are there any roles or tasks that need to be performed in an office?
Whether it’s jobs that need to be done by multiple people or you need a more professional environment, such as client meetings, it’s important to think about what jobs will need to be done in the office. This can also help you estimate how many people will regularly need office space, so you can plan going forwards amid social distancing requirements.
Will you still require office space for meetings?
Over the past few months, many business meetings will have been moved onto video call software, but this may be one aspect of lockdown working that’s had its frustrations.
Video call software can be unreliable and tricky to navigate and cannot recreate the collaborative and social aspects of an in-person meeting. Of course, that’s not to say video chat isn’t a good tool for one-on-one chats or meetings that would otherwise require travel, but if you’re hoping to have a meeting in person, you’ll need the space to do so.
Large spaces can be rented on a one-off basis, which is particularly useful for companywide meetings, but a more flexible solution would be better for meetings that happen daily or weekly.
If regular meetings are normally quite small, most office spaces should be able to accommodate this, but if you are regularly having meetings with larger groups you may need to find a different solution.
How much space will you need going forward?
If you have answered yes to either of the above, it’s obviously important that you still have an office base for employees to work from some of the time and hold meetings.
However, it may be that you can make do with a much reduced space than you are used to, or your capacity is impacted by social distancing requirements. You may simply wish to downsize by renting or buying smaller premises, or else stay where you are and rent out excess space to someone else. But it may be that you want a more flexible solution to fit your new work style.
Coworking spaces offer flexible office space, allowing your employees to split their time between home and an office as suits them. It will also often come fully equipped with other necessary resources such as high speed Wi-Fi, printing facilities, meeting rooms and more.
What do your employees want?
Probably the most important question you need to ask is what do your employees actually want. There is likely to be a mixture; people who have loved working from home, those who have struggled due to work style or home commitments and those who have adapted well but would also enjoy contact time with their colleagues.
Overall, a flexible solution is likey to offer both you and your employees what they need. The ability to work from home when it suits them will improve employees’ work/life balance, and in turn is likely to make them more productive as they will feel valued.
Having some kind of office space will mean that there is a quiet, professional space for employees that need it, and will allow all important meetings and social interaction that help the whole business work better together.
If you’re interesting in learning more about how coworking can benefit your business, take a look at our facilities here, or call us on 023 8112 5014.