18 Nov To Remote or Not Remote (forever)? That’s the question…
Unsure of where you should go with your operations due to COVID-19? Here are a few thoughts about what’s to come and why you should seriously consider going remote and how a coworking space can make your journey smoother.
The year 2020 arrived full of surprises and sending pretty much all your staff to work from home was one you probably were not counting on. We weren’t either. However, if there is one thing we can take out of this is, remote work isn’t impossible.
You have seen yourself and your team adapting to the new “lifestyle”; if your business never did this before, it is likely that you are still trying to figure a few things out, but at the end of the day, we all know this has to work because we don’t know for sure when this is going to end and nor exactly how. My bet is: six to nine months… What? Did you read this correctly? Yes, Ma’am (Sir!). You did. I am wondering how many questions marks I have raised in your already busy mind, so hear me out.
We are all counting this will last (just) a couple of months, but the truth is, the western world has been pretty much in a state of lockdown for close to 5 weeks now and we have seen no solid sign that curve is starting to flatten. Until it does, it’s going to be another couple of months (at least) and cases will start to lessen and lessen until we understand it’s safe for us all to get outside – together.
Given this is a highly contagious disease, it may be that we’ll only be really safe after a vaccine, and since we know our governments are not just going to allow us all to die by lifting the bans, one should count that getting back to life as it was is going to be a very spaced and phased-out process. With the last statement, I have just stretched my 6-9 months to close to 18-24 months. That sounds scary. It’s not meant to, it is meant to get you planning.
I know I have started to give you a headache because you are thinking about all the bills piling up, real estate, products that you can’t sell, services you can’t provide, the amount of money you need to invest in order to ensure your operations work well remotely. Some business owners may have only band-aided it with a laptop and video conferences but, we all know, this isn’t enough. There is a whole structure that needs to be put behind a remote work system to allow a company and its data, property, info, teams, etc., to operate adequately.
I suppose in the last few days you are asking yourself if it is worth the money or not? If you should wait a little longer, or not? There are a lot of unknowns and if’s and hopes, but the truth is, if you hear our leaders talking, COVID-19 is here to stay – long. The best approach right now is to prepare yourself for the future, and as it’s been said many times, remote work IS the future of work. We’ll always require interaction at some point, but more and more work will happen remotely from now on. You have a great opportunity, NOW, to adapt for the future, instead of trying to play catch-up later, which will hurt you. That comes with a few decisions to be made, and your planning as to how your business is going to operate when outside is finally deemed safe here are a few of them:
1. What do I do with my office space?
Well, right now, you don’t need it. Money-saving tip: get rid of it. I bet Real Estate won’t go anywhere once this is back to normal. You may even strike a better deal later. Right now, you should be focusing on saving money to invest in the areas your business needs to survive the virus. Office space is probably not one of them. But what if I need some space, what are my options: Well, if that’s the case, that’s one of the ways, we, Coworking Space providers can help you. If a physical location is required, then choose one that gives you just what you need so you don’t need to pay for space you right now can’t really use. You can secure one or a few offices inside a coworking space, so you don’t pay for anything else you don’t need.
2. If I don’t have an office, where will my Headquarters Address be and where does my mail go?
Coworking Space can “lend” you their addresses, so you have a physical reference on your website for customers and other interested parties. Your mail is delivered at the location and you can just pick it up from there. No need to expose anyone’s private home address either on Google or to any other person.
3. Who is going to answer the business calls if there is no receptionist?
A Coworking Space can provide you with live phone call answering and forward it to you, it can provide you with many different extension numbers if needed.
4. What if we decided to go hybrid?
That seems to be where most companies are now. Research has shown that the world workforce has about 54% of professionals working remotely to some extent. This will save you tons in office rent and other costs, as you should need a smaller space. As you downsize you can use a Coworking Space as a transition space or a permanent choice.
Going hybrid is an extremely good option to build up your confidence in your system and on your team if you wish to pursue operations that run fully (or mostly) remotely.
5. Coworking Space is not really our thing, what are our options?
Well, the beauty of a Coworking Space is that you are not committed to it for life like the more usual lease contracts. Most agreements in a coworking space are month-to-month, and when it’s longer, it’s usually a one year term. You can use the Coworking Space as a transition space until you find a space that matches all of your requirements or when you feel that the weather is clearing.
6. What are the challenges I am going to face when operations are going to be mostly or fully remotely?
Many. But here are a few I can point out just now:
– Employee isolation: this is the main issue and, to me, the most important. Working from home becomes boring and lonely after some time. This can have an impact on the employee’s productivity and mental health.
- How can we help: a coworking space membership can keep your company’s work flexibility without jeopardizing or risking any of the above; Coworking spaces are designed to provide focus, increased productivity and social interaction if needed. If you’ve ever walked into a Coworking Space, you’ve possibly noticed that it is beautifully designed, intentionally, to make you feel good, at home and, motivated.
– Engagement: we must look at our operations from “during and after COVID-19 outbreak” points of view. Right now, employees working remotely have a very different motivation to stay engaged than at other times. Keeping their jobs and transitioning has put everyone in an alert mode, a state which may fade after the threat of the virus is minimized. Once operations get back to flow and out of an estate of emergency, it is possible that employee engagement may drop a bit.
Lack of engagement can be a direct response to lowered interaction with different players in the team and the infectivity of communication channels. In an in-person setting, it is easier to request and discuss things back and forth with each other and ask for someone else’s opinion. In a remote setting, it is probably that many items and many people will be left out of the loop in the decision making and it just might be that it will reduce their engagement and sense of belonging.
o How can we help:
- You can set days that your team works out of a coworking space together in order to strengthen relationships, this will be especially important for new employees.
- Additionally, and according to the needs of your operation, you can set-up weekly (bi-weekly, monthly) team meetings, masterminds and/or brainstorming sessions out of a coworking space, taking
advantage of their well-structured facilities. Given the right invitations were made, this will help obtain the input of all the stakeholders and keep the sense of belonging.
- As I have mentioned in another article, here, getting the team out of their usual spot will increase the productivity for these sessions as there are no distractions.
– Communication: communication is generally a problem is companies when everyone is close to each other, and as things go remote, the challenge is just doubled. There are different types of communication flows inside each business, it is not just about keeping people informed, it is also about ensuring information flows well in the work systems as well.
- How we can help: while this is not coworking space material, we at Touchdown Coworking Space are ready to support you with consulting services to help transition your work systems & methods from physical to online/remote. We have highly qualified HR and ISO certified Business Consultants within our team. We can guide you through the process of transitioning with effectivity while helping you cut down on other costs, as applicable.
– Infrastructure: aside from communication and work procedures & methods, it is important to take a look at other items that will impact your remote operations, from a company and individual levels. For the company, it lies in software & systems, security, etc. On an individual level, we think of training, delivery methods, required technology: computers, speed of connections, reliability, response times, etc. It’s a whole big game here, as it depends more on which type of operation you run, but these are the main points.
o How can we help:
- On an individual level, coworking spaces will help you with providing proper workspaces for your remote workers. If they can’t work from home adequately for whatever reason, coworking services will make this possible. They can have their own desks or offices if need be, but mainly, they have access to the best and most reliable resources available in the market, internet, printing, meeting rooms, etc.
- On a company level, Touchdown Coworking Space is ready to work with you on a consulting basis, to help you find and set-up your new systems and software that best fits your operation needs.
– Client Interaction: well it might just happen that some clients are face-to-face and in-person kind of people.
- How can we help: this is an easy one! If you have decided to go remote, you can just use one of our conferencing and office spaces to meet in person with your prospective or current clients, this is a service that is a call or a click away if a booking is needed. If not, you are just welcome to meet your clients from one of our common areas, grab a coffee and a snack and nail your deal!
If you would like to know more about how we can help you, please drop us a line at email@example.com and we’ll get in touch to learn more about your needs. Cheers!