Most of the business world has been thrown kicking and screaming into the world of mobile workforces. While there is a myriad of experiences out there, one consistent thing I have heard is that people seem to be more productive than leadership expected while working from home. The next logical question is: Once the world returns to normal, do we really need to bring everybody back into the office?
For many, this experience has been eye opening when it comes to how many employees can get their job done whether they are in an office, or on their couch. While most people aren’t happy about being trapped at home all of the time, many employees do enjoy the flexibility that comes with working remotely. It isn’t rare to actually see an increase in productivity as the distractions of office life are removed and users are given the freedom to work where they are comfortable. If users are enjoying themselves in the current environment and all of the work is getting done, then why would you bring them back to the office?
Allowing users who have proven they can accomplish their work remotely to continue to work from wherever they are comfortable comes with several benefits. This added flexibility improves user satisfaction with their job and could improve their long term productivity and likelihood of staying with the company as they relish the new freedom they have been given. Companies also reduce the head-count of employees needing to use office space which makes the office less crowded and could even allow companies to down-size into less spacious, and therefore less costly, offices. Less users also means less people on the company network meaning the WAN should be less congested and companies can potentially lower their WAN costs by cutting bandwidth without harming productivity.
As recent times have shown us, there are ways to accomplish the vast majority of tasks remotely. Video conferencing allows companies to still have weekly meetings and see each other while data sharing tools allow for collaboration on multiple projects across several departments. While field personnel, or other employees who have jobs demanding they be on-site to complete tasks, will always need to go where the work is, there are few credible reasons for employees that don’t need to interact with customers at their place of business, or interact with product on-site to need to travel to work to accomplish daily tasks.
As the world slowly returns to normal I would expect many companies to start seriously exploring giving their employees the option to remain remote unless their job demands otherwise. The challenge moving forward will be to find a long-term plan for making sure these employees have access to the tools they need in a secure and reliable way that is affordable to everybody involved. Look for upcoming content around best practices relating to your mobile workforce to help guide you through the process of converting these short-term mobile users into a long term mobile powerhouse.