As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, countless businesses have locked their office doors and allowed their staff to work from home. For businesses, this need for sudden adaptation to working away from a centralized office has led to many challenges and difficulties – but have also added many silver linings to the clouds.
For example, many businesses have looked at their new way of working and found they like what they see: productivity has continued as normal and the company is functioning as it always has. As a result, the overheads involved with working from a centralized office are starting to look a little perplexing.
The above thoughts, coupled with business’ owners desire to protect employees’ health by allowing them to avoid commutes and working in close proximity to one another, has led company owners to conclude that perhaps allowing staff to work from home is no longer a short-term answer to a crisis. Instead, it could signify a permanent change to how their business operates; perhaps it’s possible to abandon the conventional office for good, and instead embrace a decentralized business where everyone works from home, all the time. If you’ve had such thoughts in relation to your own business, then here’s a look at the pros and cons you’ll want to consider…
- The technology and assistance is available to make it work. Once upon a time, a business operating without a central office would have been impossible – it just wasn’t something that happened, or even could happen. However, technological advances such as high-speed internet and the rise of services such as Virtual HQ that are capable of maintaining high service levels and professionalism for your business even without a main office have all made this manner of running a business more than feasible.
- Confidence through doing. The circumstances are something no one would have ever wanted, but you, your staff, and your business as a whole have now demonstrated that working in a decentralized manner is possible. You will already have developed processes to simplify how you work, identified potential pitfalls, conducted troubleshooting, and all of the other essential components involved with abandoning your business premises. It’s therefore reasonable for you to feel confident that your business can now continue in this manner; it’s not a step into the unknown, but a continuance of an existing circumstance – which should make everything about the process much, much simpler.
- Reduced costs. As we touched on above, the costs of hiring an office (or any other kind of business premises) can be significant. Removing these outgoings will have significant benefits to your business’ bottom line, and could mean that you can invest or grow your company far sooner than you would otherwise have been able to.
- Not all staff will embrace the idea. It is often assumed that all staff want to work from home, but if the coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated anything, it’s that a lot of people miss the familiarity of commuting and going to an office every day. As a result, making a permanent change to how you work could disappoint staff members who wanted to get back to the office. If you do experience this option, organising regular meetups might be a workable solution.
- You may incur new costs. Your business will likely save on outgoings by leaving your office, but you may incur additional costs that can subtract from those savings – for example, if you need to rent a storage facility for business equipment that was once stored at the office, or investing in ensuring your employees have the best possible technology at home.
- Revisiting your planning and forecasting. Few business owners currently contemplating leaving their office will have actually intended to do so this year; instead, it’s likely that you made the change very quickly based on an unprecedented event that was unlikely to be factored into your long-term business plans. Due to this, your original plans for 2020 and beyond will have been based around the assumption you’d still be working from an office; you’ll therefore need to revisit, and if necessary retool, your plans. This is particularly true in regards to finances, which will need to be amended to take account of the new circumstances.
Considering what’s right for your business
If decentralized working has been a success for your company, it’s natural that you’ve started to wonder if you can make the situation permanent. However, such a major change to the way your business operates is a major concern, which is why it’s vital to weigh both the good and bad sides of the decision and then choose a route forward with the full complement of information behind you.