The new remote work model started out as a necessity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but has it become something more? Once the immediate threat is over, will we be looking at a corporate landscape forever changed? Simply put, will remote work become the new normal?
The answer is both yes and no. Saying "digital is the new normal" erases the role which human connection will play in the post-coronavirus world. But, this period of primarily remote employment will lead to many companies adapting and even fundamentally altering their business models.
Could Businesses Benefit from a Remote Future?
For many years, we have been beholden to the in-office, nine-to-five model of the average workday. The COVID-19 crisis has forced employees and business leaders alike to step back and assess what a digital office could look like. Employees at all levels of the company could experience greater flexibility as they set hours and schedules that work best for them and their families. As the COVID-19 situation has shown, the software and technologies that can facilitate such a workplace do indeed exist.
A remote employment-focused model could also lead to unexpected financial benefits for business owners and entrepreneurs. Not needing to maintain a large physical office - or, perhaps, any physical office at all - represents a significant decrease in the day-to-day cost of running a company. In addition to the significant real estate fees associated with maintaining office space, consider also the money that can be saved by eliminating cleaning and housekeeping costs, the purchase of large pieces of equipment, or even the coffee and tea needed to keep the employee break room consistently stocked.
Additionally, the relationships between employees and higher-ups could be improved by a remote-centric work model. While it may seem paradoxical at first, there's something comforting and equalizing about getting to see your boss wearing sweats in their home office, learning how to use Zoom right alongside you. Improved communication and the feeling that employees can speak to their boss and have their concerns heard can arise as a result.
The "New Normal" Is Not Without Its Drawbacks
It's easy to say that "digital is the new normal," but the reality is far more complicated. Employees have been surprised to find themselves feeling less healthy and becoming more exhausted after an hour-long Zoom video conference than a four-hour meeting in the office. Reasons include feeling that they lack appropriate separation between home and work and the embarrassment associated with being constantly reminded that your face is visible on the screen. It's easy to feel that Big Brother is always watching you when your boss gets to see into the sanctuary of your formerly-private home.
It is highly likely that, in the weeks and months following the end of the global state of emergency, businesses will experience an increase in in-person meetings and travel. Bosses will feel the need to check in and re-establish connection with physically distant employees, while the employees themselves may be drawn towards the idea of congregating in the office to re-form bonds with coworkers and friends.
Flexibility Is Key
A post-COVID-19 business model will benefit from flexibility and a willingness to be patient and compromise. Remember that all of you, from the brand-new employee to the company CEO, are learning to navigate this strange new world together.
Encourage open communication. Provide options for reconnecting in person while continuing to allow remote work to play a role in your business's daily operations. Invest in technologies that support remote work and consider cutting down on unnecessary office space or other real estate.
The companies which come through this crisis stronger and ready to face a new future will be those who offer flexible options and truly listen to what their employees have to say.
Calkins Law Can Help You Adjust
The Calkins Law Firm is here to help businesses in the Cleveland, Buffalo, and Chagrin Falls areas adjust to the new normal of a post-COVID-19 world. A business law firm can assist you in transitioning your business model by helping you sell or re-acquire physical office space, hire contractors or freelancers as part of your new remote-centered workforce, and financially support your employees who have been affected by these trying times.
The business attorneys of Calkins Law Firm are also the perfect choice for Ohio and New York-based entrepreneurs who have used the lockdown period as a chance to plan and start their businesses. Learn more about everything from officially becoming a corporate entity to hiring your very first employees.
For more information or to schedule a consultation with one of our business attorneys, please contact our office.