Leaving The Kitchen Table
With the advent of more and more people getting vaccinated, a return to “normal” is in sight. Of course, it will likely be a very different normal than what we had previously as we have all learned a lot this year about how to keep ourselves and our community healthy and safe. For instance, I, a die-hard believer in hand-washing as a way to prevent illness from way back, am gratified to see more people taking this very easy action seriously. And wearing masks? As a longtime allergy sufferer, wearing a mask on those windy, spring days when pollen and particulate matter is floating everywhere has significantly cut down on my suffering. I will be keeping all my reusable, color-coordinated masks and obtaining more!
But it isn’t just the hygiene or mask-wearing or social distancing that will resonate with us long-term. The way “knowledge workers” physically do their jobs is up for a serious upheaval. Before the pandemic, roughly 30 percent of such workers worked remotely. Now, it is possible 48 percent, or nearly half will do some sort of remote work.
THE CASE FOR REMOTE WORK
The benefits of more employees having the option to work remotely are chiefly the lack of commute and better work/life balance. Air quality levels improved dramatically in the San Francisco Bay Area where I live, as cars suddenly disappeared off the roadways along with their significant pollution. Not to mention, workers were not having to spend up to 1 1/2 or more hours per day fighting traffic during rush hours. Many workers cite this lack of commute hassle as a serious quality of life enhancement.
Being either at home or close to home also vastly improved the elusive work/life balance we all desire. Parents of young children benefit greatly from being close to home, making all those doctor visits, school and daycare calls, and chance to be there for whatever their children need. And, you don’t have to have children to appreciate the closeness to home for dealing with all the myriad errands and tasks that need to be done.
HYBRID WORK MODEL
Companies are responding to this end of the pandemic by trying to find some sort of hybrid work model, where employees split time between a main office and home. A recent poll found that employees think a split of 3 days at home and 2 days in office was the ideal while their bosses are leaning toward the flip side—2 at home, 3 days at office. Everything is in flux at this point, so I encourage all of you to weigh in with what your best-case scenario looks like!
Over a year ago, in March 2020, I fielded calls and made proposals to many employers who were thinking ahead to the end of the shelter-in-place order. Most of them were planning allow their employees to work near home at a professional flexspace center like mine, for at least part of the workweek. Most of them, and I, believed this would be happening by May 2020 or June 2020 at the latest.
Of course, as the pandemic worsened and surges of COVID kept happening and safety required us to stay sheltered, those companies I was working with pivoted to making their employees’ home office better by paying for ergonomic furniture and upgrades to their home WIFI, among other things.
As requested, I have been checking in on a regular basis with these companies to keep them aware of my ability to provide the workspace they want for when their employees can safely leave their homes. In the name of full transparency, I let all the companies know I had other offers for the same space they were considering and it would be a case of first-come, first-served. It has been over a year and finally, I have one of my companies now planning to implement a hybrid model beginning in July 2021. I think this is the beginning of some solid plans and expect to see some more companies making the decision to commit to a hybrid plan, or a hub-and-spoke model, for their employees.
Since I would be oversold if everyone currently in my pipeline signed on the dotted line, I am encouraging all my leads to make a decision as soon as they can!
My industry, the flexible workspace industry, is uniquely poised to be a key part of the economic recovery as we can offer highly-individualized plans at flexible terms. None of us can really know what lies ahead and I firmly believe that flexibility along with our great customer service and commitment to our members’ success, is key to a successful return to the workplace.
At Office Evolution Walnut Creek, we provide virtual office, coworking, and private office solutions at our shared office center. We offer meeting rooms, offices for rent, hot desking in a shared workspace coworking lounge, a shared reception, a business address, and virtual receptionist services. We have many options and price points, and all terms are flexible. Plus, you become part of a community of like-minded professionals.
Whether you live in Walnut Creek, Alamo, Danville, Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga, Pleasant Hill, Concord, and other communities nearby in Contra Costa County, choosing Office Evolution Walnut Creek will help you be more professional, productive, and profitable.