5 Factors Impacting Office Reopening Decisions

When will remote work end?

Such an important question remains unanswered for many American workers.  While some have never stopped going into their essential workplaces, others wait as the future of their work-home balance remains in limbo.

Some companies have already committed to long-term remote work, including Facebook. They even hired Darren Murph, previously at all-remote pioneer GitLabs, as director of remote work. Other companies are still evaluating the impact of remote work on their teams and the tradeoffs involved. Even while predicting the state of work in 2022 remains impossible, leaders can still make informed decisions for the future of their workforce.

In our newest guide “Managing a Happy and Productive Virtual Team“, we break down proven best practices for managing dispersed teams. We look at the data on the impact of remote work and how teams are maintaining cultures of success through disruption.

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Remote work offers the potential for increased flexibility, shorter commutes, and cost savings. On the other hand, the isolation and communication challenges can disrupt team chemistry. In light of these tradeoffs, the decision to return to the office requires that leaders understand both the business and human sides of a remote-first culture.

Check out the infographic below and our rundown after of the top 5 factors influencing office reopening decisions.


1. Cost Savings

As the above graphic shows, a remote workforce is cost saving for business. Office expenses are tougher to justify in a world where employees can be even more effective at home. In addition to the office and travel cost savings, remote work provides cost savings for employees. Reduced commutes give workers more time to spend on meaningful activities and not on battling traffic. In our new remote team management eBook, we examine how these savings translate into improved job satisfaction for employees. When companies invest these cost savings in tools to enhance remote work, employee productivity and engagement can in fact improve with remote work.

2. Strain on Working Parents

Managing the balancing act of working from home while helping children with remote learning has been an impossible ask of our working parents. This has had a remarkable impact on workforce diversity and gender balance. In the US, there were 2.2 Million fewer women in the labor market in October 2021 than in October 2020. Mothers (and Fathers) are a critical part of our workforce and our society. With continued remote learning forcing parents to be home, leaders must be cognizant of the needs of employees balancing commitments. Our new download breaks down strategies for supporting parents as they continue to adapt and adjust to the changing needs of their children. Any decision about returning to the office must place the needs of parents high among all considerations.

3. Vaccination Roll-Out

For many businesses, the COVID-19 vaccination will reduce the health risks to employees of being in the office. Around the world, roll out remains uneven, and vaccine effectiveness remains in question with the emergence of new strains. Continuing to defer to local health authorities remains the best strategy for keeping employees safe. Whether in the office or at home, leaders possess responsibility for the well-being of their employees while on the job.

Read Our Remote Management Guide!

4. Changes in Productivity While Remote

In-office distractions have significant costs for business. While working from home also carries complications, the flexibility to complete tasks outside of working hours has made remote workers more productive. In our new guide, we break down how to maximize focus and productivity while working from home. With enough data in hindsight, leaders should be able to evaluate their team’s ability to get work done while remote.

5. Virtual Team Culture

If you’re like us, the biggest loss of working from home is the impromptu interactions with our coworkers. Especially on a growing team, building trust and camaraderie is challenging while remote. We’ve covered many ways to build culture on a remote team on this blog, but also know that in-person events will be very welcome when possible.

Ultimately, the quality of your remote team’s culture will depend on your ability to communicate using digital tools. Zoom and Slack can help build culture, but only if used correctly. The software we use to get work done also helps us communicate progress on goals. Our remote work leadership eBook breaks down how to use this technology to power success and build engagement.

The best leaders use this technology to ensure their teams hit their goals whether remote or in the office. Your people and your tools will impact your culture more than whether you’re over Zoom or in-person.

Stay safe, stay productive, and see all our advice for remote team leaders in our new guide.

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