With cities starting to re-open after the COVID pause business owners are asking the question, should I re-open my office?
If you are thinking about re-opening your office, you’d better have a good reason! Your company has spent the last two months working at home, and there’s a number of them who are liking it. So if you’re bringing them back, you need to be able to communicate some good reasons to do it.
So putting aside the question of how you re-open your office safely (that’s a topic for another day), let’s look at why you might want to get your office open.
There are things we can do in the office that we can’t do from home
There are some businesses for whom this decision is a no-brainer!
- Does your work require tools or equipment that’s either too big or too expensive for folks to have at home? An office is good for that.
- Do you need space to lay things out, or to have everyone see things all at once?
- Do you have confidential or sensitive information that isn’t safe outside the office?
Those are all excellent reasons to return folks to work.
We’ve lost productivity
We’ve talked quite a bit about how the stress of the sudden pause and the separation from many of the supports that enable our lifestyles (school, childcare, restaurants, gyms, etc.) have increased people’s stress and decreased our productivity.
Will bring folks back into the office increase or improve that?
If you believe that it will improve the situation bring folks back — but prepare for pushback — one survey showed that 77% of workers feel fully productive at home.
We’re losing our culture
Being a part of a company is more than getting a paycheck and working a few hours a day. A workgroup is a place to belong. And whether that belonging comes from laughing together around the water cooler, or shared rituals, or swapping stories about our favorite TV shows, a lot of that becomes more difficult when you leave an office setting.
An office creates an environment where those shared experiences happen naturally, almost effortlessly. There are a thousand informal opportunities to reinforce good behavior and observe behavior that is outside the norm that is tough to replicate remotely.
Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater
When you all went home your team started innovating like never before — in just a couple of weeks we found new ways to work and get things done that would have taken years without the shutdown. Don’t lose that spirit of innovation and think you can just go back to the office and pick up where you were. That innovation happened, and you want it to keep happening. Think about how to support those changes as you shift back to your office environment.
As you are thinking about the future of your office, what factors are you considering? Why would you want to re-open? Hit reply and let me know!
(On Thursday, we’ll talk about what you need to think about if you are not thinking of an immediate reopening.)