Why COVID-19 Will Forever Change The Corporate Office Structure
How do you plan to convince your teams that they have to work in an office after what will be months of working from home successfully?
Prior to COVID-19, employees have long made the argument that we live in a digital age and we have the tools to allow them to work from home more often. The corporate office was built on the idea that bringing people together was essential to the success of the organization. Over the last fifteen years we’ve seen the open office space thrive in tech companies allowing people to openly share ideas and collaborate.
COVID-19 will forever change the way companies look at the office. Here’s why……
Teams are proving that work from home is sustainable
Sure, it’s only been about a month for some companies but so far it appears that corporate America can handle it. Many companies were thrust into the WFH status with little to no warning, which gave us no opportunity to over think the analytics of the program. Prior to the mandate, companies would have given extra care and attention to what the structure of it all meant.
When warnings of shelter in place came down they happened in a matter of hours. This gave employees the chance to grab their laptops and run home while downloading the Zoom app. Since the start of a company mandate, we’ve learned how to handle our day to day and engage with our teams accordingly.
If your team has hit a milestone or accomplished a large scale task during the WFH period of time, it’s going to be really hard to convince them that the office is a more successful place for them to operate in. If business is still getting accomplished, it’s going to be really hard to convince your team to return to the office 5 days a week.
HR issues will be cut by more than half
WFH has an added benefit that I wasn’t even thinking of when it all started. The reality is that when humans occupy space together, there tends to be conflict in even the most amazing of cultures. WFH removes the potential for human conflict when our engagement is via video screens and Google docs.
The WFH structure eliminates the need to poke the bear of a co-worker. It eliminates the random interactions that can lead to strife. WFH also keeps us focused on the people we most need to interact with as we’re packed in back to back meetings by the thirty minute increment.
Since teams are relegated to use their time at home differently, the need to waste time with co-workers doesn’t exist. Simply put, HR issues will see a massive decline during this time we it makes it incredibly difficult to cause issues with peers when you have to ask them to enter a code to turn on their camera.
Added office expenses can be reduced
Tech companies have become famously known for their love of snacks and food in the office. It’s a perk for many companies that the employee base has come to love. On average, tech companies spend anywhere from $5–9 a day per head for snacks and beverages. While these expenses are viewed as a recruitment and retention tool in addition to a culture and morale perk, they are still an expense.
WFH has eliminated the need to continue to stock up on LaCroix and Chobani and if employees are not going to return to the office 5 days a week in the future, companies will save massive amounts on this expense.
Other expenses that a company incurs as a result of their teams being in the office every day include parking, heating/air, security, power, etc. If companies even adopt a 75/25 split in the future of Office: WFH ratio, they will see savings instantly.
While WFH is a nice perk for employees right now, there is no doubting the obstacles that it still creates in the long term. Team culture and overall adoration for the brand are built when people cohabitate in an office space together.
This unprecedented period of time is allowing us to understand the boundaries of WFH and the appreciation for the office space. I struggle to see corporate America go back to a model that mandates the office as the only vehicle for accomplishing work. We will be forever changed by this period of time as a result; and that isn’t a bad thing.