During the COVID-19 pandemic, the vast majority of employees were told to work from home. Initially, a lot of confusion arose from this sudden change of circumstances, but businesses, including us at Essendon, learned how to make it work ...
Work from home, or back to the office? Or maybe a hybrid of the two! What's the future for your business?
Now, as the country starts to unlock and many employers are wondering what's next, the biggest question has to be, "is everyone staying at home or do we want them back in the office?". In some cases, there may be something in between.
"A hybrid model!"
One thing many financial directors have realised is that without huge, expensive offices to house their teams, they could save an awful lot of money. Workspace provider IWG recently said that after the challenges of 2020, co-working and hot-desking spaces are going to become very popular in 2021 and beyond.
Using less office space will save them money and will be far more environmentally friendly to boot. There will be an accelerated demand for smaller headquarters and some form of hybrid working will become the norm for many larger businesses.
Although there have been many downsides to the pandemic, least of all the colleagues, friends and family members we have lost, it has certainly helped technology to jump forward a number of years. Zoom was almost unheard of 12-months ago, now it's become almost normal for our dogs and cats to make an appearance during meetings.
"But there are two sides to every argument!"
Companies like BP are allowing people to work from home two days a week, British Airways even says its employees can continue to work from home full-time. Japanese conglomerate NTT is permitting its thousands of UK employees to work from home, but hot desk in shared office spaces when they need to partake of meetings. Even then, some people will still conference in using the likes of Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
And conversely, other big companies are demanding employees return to the office. This could be due to productivity issues, but also because they feel their staff are simply tired of working from home and need to be surrounded by their colleagues to work most efficiently.
Many employees do want to continue to work from home full-time, simply because they can use their usual commuting time to be more productive. There is an issue with work-life balance to be taken into consideration, so it comes down to individual circumstances when you start thinking about what will and won't be allowed in future.
At Essendon, all of our team are local to our office so there's no long commute for any of them. I'm going to encourage everyone to return to their desks as soon as they're legally allowed to. But there will still be times they need to concentrate on projects, have family issues or even still need to self-isolate, so I am open to discussions about some degree of flexibility when it's most needed.
"We made the technology work for us during the pandemic, so there's no reason to stop using it!"
How about you and your business? What are your plans for a return to the office? Do you still have an office? Or has the pandemic shown you your team can be just as efficient working from home?
Maybe you will implement a hybrid of the two?
Until next time ...
ROGER EDDOWES Business Godparent
Would you like to know more?
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Roger trained at Edward Thomas Peirson & Sons in Market Harborough before working at Hartwell & Co, followed by Chancery, as a partner. He started Essendon Accounts and Tax with Helen Beaumont in 2014 as a general practitioner with a hands-on approach.
Roger loves getting his hands dirty, working with emerging, small-to-medium and family businesses to ensure they receive the best possible accountancy advice. Roger utilises an extensive network of business contacts to leverage the best guidance and practical solutions.
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