Is Working Remotely Effective For Your Business? Can You Prove it?
Thank goodness the Covid pandemic seems to be finally coming to a closure here in the United States. Obviously depending on the state or county you work or reside in, the experience and timing is different. However, there does seem to be an overall feeling that people are heading back to the office. Or are they? As reopening plans across the U.S. have fluctuated, many business owners have or are considering pivoting to becoming more virtual business oriented. They believe it can save their companies, keep their employees safe or happy, or because everyone has just accepted working in their pajamas.
There are countless articles in the ethos preaching the benefits of working remotely and how the business world may be changed forever. But do we really know how it will affect your business, and can you track and quantify that decision? Below are some simple points worth noting when considering a remote working environment.
How is Communication Being Tracked?
Research suggests that miscommunication costs small businesses an average of $420,000 per year. That is a staggering economic loss attributed to ineffective communication. During periods of rapid change (like now), communication becomes even more critical. The chance for misunderstanding, broken trust, and low morale gets compounded if your team is communicating poorly during times of change. Transparency is key. But, in times of change, you might not be able to provide a clear picture of what is happening and what the future objectives are. Change can be messy and hard to predict. That is especially true if you are trying to do things remotely via email or the ever-mimicked Zoom call. Though there is this unspoken belief that 'employees working from home actually work 24 hours a day because they are replying to emails and requests at all times of the day and night'. Let us be honest, that does NOT mean they are working or communicating effectively. The 1 AM email replies to a request sent at 9 AM the prior day, or the Zoom call with the dog barking in the background, is not improving communication efforts. Those communication efforts are disjointed, fragmented or ill-prepared. A good alternative to those are discussion boards where posts and replies can be monitored, sorted, and kept for reference later. Discussion boards are very familiar to people already as many peruse them every night via Facebook and Twitter, while lying in bed 'working'. It only seems natural to post business topics in an already familiar manner. They do not need to replace emails nor Zoom calls, but instead can help organize and sort those discussions already in progress.
What is your real estate occupancy ratio / efficiency when working remotely?
A primary efficiency ratio for real estate and business is the 'person per square foot ratio'. Whether you quote it as X SF per employee, or X employees per SF, the goal is the same - maximizing the number people that can effectively, comfortably (and now safely) work in the smallest location possible. This is often a primary objective to help reduce real estate costs. However with more and more firms providing options to work remotely, or to physically spread out those that do come into the office, these ratios are going to change. According to a recent Washington Post article, the nation's largest employer (U.S. Government) just joined the list of employers expanding permanent remote or hybrid work environments. Unfortunately, most businesses do not have the luxury of being ignorant of occupancy efficiencies like the government. Private businesses need to track, evaluate, and monitor these now fluctuating ratios. In many situations these hybrid environments are on an experiential basis, thus it really becomes important to have the ability to compare real estate costs, sizes and other facility needs against other business metrics such as sales, HR and employee satisfaction and more.
How accountable are your employees when working remotely?
As noted prior, a simple web search can produce multiple articles praising the effectiveness of working remotely. Here are a few basic highlights from AppoloTech article which quotes even other sources:
- Performance can increase up to 13 percent by working from home.
- Working Remotely Can Increase Productivity up to 77%.
- Time saved can as much as 8.5 hours a week of free time by not commuting to work. For a year, this adds up to 408 hours.
- More Exercise leads to healthier employees. The lack of commute and less opportunity to socialize allows remote workers to use the extra time to exercise. Regular exercise can be good on mental and physical health and is a great stress reliever. Those who work from home report exercising 30 minutes more during the workweek.
Though it is professed that productivity increases, performance is improved, and time is saved along with a litany of other factors, one topic that is overlooked in these reports are accountability factors. Is the work requested being performed on-time and completed correctly? If employees are working remotely, employers can no longer walk down the hall of the office and ask (face to face) for ETAs or status updates. Workloads have become eerily reminiscent of college term papers, 'It is due Friday at 3 PM and I will get it done then at the last minute!' Most of us can related that last minute rush jobs typically are self-inflicted and cause issues. In order to help keep communication open and to ensure quality work, it is imperative to have clear accountability action items posted, such as workflow schedules with dates, times, tasks, and progress reports. That is why project and task management as well as other time management features are absolutely essential to provide open and transparent accountability amongst employees as well as employers.
Tracking the effectiveness of Working Remotely
There are even more factors than above that need to be monitored when reviewing hybrid work environments such as HR policies, space layouts, building guidelines, local government regulations as related to Covid, employee satisfaction and more. Each of these data points are often siloed between departments, locations or may not exist yet for some businesses. Once you do have all the information, being able to cross compare it and effectively analyze it for efficiencies is the next step. This is where having a centralized platform like Real Clear Software can help. Real Clear Software's commercial and cloud based real estate management software offers many advantages over excel spreadsheets and other programs. RCS integrates portfolio, transaction and document management, project management, data security, performance measurement, data analysis & comparison, real time data access, stakeholder collaboration, CRM, demographics, and generation of various reports. For more information on Real Clear Software, visit https://realclear.software, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone (949) 445-6220.