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Office? Remote? Hybrid is more likely.

July 2, 2020

By Mary E. Corrado courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

As we return to work, employees and employers will need to adjust to a new way of doing things. Employees have grown accustomed to the flexibility they have with remote work.  While many miss the office, many do not.

I have spoken to many members as they return to work, and there is a wide variety of how everyone is handling it.  Some now offer full remote, some will return to the office, and many will create a hybrid approach.

Many employers have seen an uptick in productivity with employees working from home. When returning to the office, how do we maintain this increase in productivity with the added stress of commuting time, more interruptions, a more structured day, etc.?

For those employers bringing employees back to the office, either full-time or part of the time, now is a good time to look at how you can bring some of the pros of working remotely into the office.

Some ideas include:

Flexible Hours – Work doesn’t have to be 9-5 to be productive. Employees who work remotely often have the option to start earlier or work later. The added flexibility allows them to work when they are at their best.  For employees having to commute to the office, consider allowing flexibility which would allow them to bypass rush hour, etc. At ASE, we have core hours that we expect our remote staff to be available, but they can be flexible outside of those core hours.

Give Employees a Choice – As you have likely found during the past few months, some employees thrive while working virtually, but some function better with the structure of coming to the office.  Giving employees the choice to do what works best for them can give you the best of both worlds and optimize productivity. As you may recall, before the pandemic ASE employees were given the option to work two days per week remotely.  During the pandemic we went full remote.  We plan to return to the office in September; however, I gave employees several options: full-time office, two days remote, full remote.  This will allow ASE employees to work how they function best.  When we return, approximately 25% of our employees will be full-time remote. The other 75% chose to work remote two days per week.

Provide Privacy – As employees return to the office, open work areas will be a thing of the past. Several years ago open workspaces were the trend.  While many studies showed that they actually reduced productivity and increased illness, organizations that invested in newly remodeled open workspaces were stuck. But now they will be forced to change the space.  Employees will need to be distanced six feet away from each other, and to halt the spread of illness they will need a dedicated workspace of their own. In addition, this will provide the privacy they enjoyed while working remote – bringing yet another pro of remote work to the office.

The post-pandemic workplace will be different, and with a little effort and thought will hopefully be better. What changes have you made?  Email me at mcorrado@aseonline.org.

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