The future of the office has become an interesting debate for managers nowadays. Cost cutting is the go-to move during times of crisis and one of the biggest line expenses is rent. This has led to many managers (and workers) wondering: Should we always work remotely?
One of the biggest reasons to permanently transition to a remote workforce is an immediate reduction in expenses as less office space and a lower number of resources are used. Which is supported by a weaker marketplace in which every sale is competitive and disposable income is minimal.
Two factors to consider when managing a remote workforce:
- Maintaining a streamlined workflow
- Integrating project management tools
The tools usually come with their own costs and risks. Further, having the tools is one thing, using them effectively is another. You need to have (and hire) a staff that supports the use of the tools at their disposal.
While the idea of a traditional office with physical staff may seem quaint in these tech-driven times, the truth is that even the tech giants maintain headquarters and on-ground staff. This is because a shared workspace is still the best thing for communication and ideation.
An office allows workers to grow together resulting in strong interpersonal relationships that foster teamwork and lead to a productive energy that can not be replicated by machines. Those lighting-in-a-bottle sessions which excite and engage workers are very difficult to duplicate online.
There are some roles that require an employee to be, both directly and indirectly, in touch with the market. Sometimes they are required to be physically present or in terms of being “in the know” by mingling with others and discussing the trade. Tech solutions to mitigate both of these things exist but most argue they are still not there yet.
In short, a remote workforce may cut expenses on the front-end (rent, etc) but it comes with other costs and potential pitfalls including a deterioration in communication and quality. One needs to analyze the specific role and understand its dynamics to conclude whether it can be performed well remotely.