Last year, the cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg caused uproar when he left notes on the desks of civil servants as part of a campaign to stop them working from home. The notes were printed on cards with an official government crest, and read: “Sorry you were out when I visited. I look forward to seeing you in the office very soon. With every good wish, Rt Hon Jacob Rees-Mogg MP.”
At the time this took place, there was no restriction on home working in many civil service jobs, with many workers in the public sector being allowed to work from home indefinitely. The Covid-19 pandemic had led to a hybrid working environment in the Civil Service with as little as 40% of working time spent in offices.
However, now the tide is turning, and The Civil Service recognise the need to maximise the use of their publicly funded office space, and to reverse the 5.7% drop in output since the Covid pandemic. Despite arguments being put forward for the benefits of civil servants either continuing to work from home or having a hybrid system in place, Downing Street is thought to be ready to issue new advice this autumn about driving up attendance figures in the office.
And the Civil Service is not alone in this bid to get workers back into the office. Amazon, HSBC and ironically Zoom – one of the market leaders in video conferencing during the pandemic – have all recently announced restrictions on working from home.
So if you run a digital marketing agency, what is your normal working culture for your employees? Are they all office-based, all home-based, or some kind of hybrid balance between the two? And are you happy with the way things are now, or is it time to change?
To help you in your decision-making process, we take a look at three advantages of office working vs three advantages of remote working from a business point of view:
Three advantages of office working
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the majority of office-based jobs that continued during lockdown were able to be done from home. And if this is the case, why now try to relocate them back to the office again? Let’s look at the advantages of office-based working:
A structured working environment
There are many people who are able to work perfectly effectively from home, but others simply fare better in an office environment. The environmental prompt of the office can help to focus the mind, and most modern office spaces are ergonomically designed to get the best out of people.
And even the daily commute can form a physical and psychological break between home and work, and many people prefer this to having the boundaries blurred by working from home.
It facilitates meetings and discussions
According to research conducted by Harvard Business Review, face-to-face meetings can be up to 34 times more successful than emails. Having your team working together in an office facilitates both formal meetings and informal discussions, so in this respect will get more done.
And of course when people are working together there are all the day to day spontaneous discussions such as coffee machine / water cooler interactions, lunches etc from which great ideas and future plans can emerge.
More social and training opportunities
Many training and career growth opportunities spring from people simply working together. An employee working remotely may struggle with an aspect of work, such as a bit of technical know-how, and either waste hours trying to sort it out or end up not doing it properly. But if they are in the office, someone could probably show them in about 5 minutes.
Being in the office also enables employees to build their network and become aware of other potential opportunities in the business. These opportunities can pass people by if they are not there at the time.
It’s also important to be aware that remote working can be a lonely existence, perhaps particularly for younger employees. Remote workers can feel detached from what is going on, and miss social contact with other colleagues. Providing an office environment as a home base can have opportunities for socialising as well as working.
Three advantages of remote working
So there are some positive aspects to consider if you decide that you want your employees to work predominantly in an office environment.
However, there are also advantages to remote working. Let’s take a look:
You save money on running an office
If your digital marketing agency is fully remote, you will potentially save a great deal of money on office expenses such as rent, insurance, equipment and utilities. This can be a huge incentive to go full remote.
There will still be expenses of course. For example there will be times when you may need to hire premises for meetings or events, and you will need to look into helping your employees with equipment and working from home expenses. But overall it is going to be cheaper to run a business on a remote working basis.
A wider pool of employees
Another significant advantage of running a remote business is that you have a much wider pool of employees to choose from. If your team works remotely, then it doesn’t actually matter where they are based. So in theory you could recruit anyone from anywhere.
The Covid-19 pandemic triggered a desire in many people to relocate to wherever they have always wanted to live, primarily to pursue a better quality of life. You could be the icing on the cake in their life change process if you can offer a fabulous job that they can do from home. And in return you could find an excellent and happy employee who can make a positive difference to your company.
Employees have a better work-life balance
As well as remote working removing the location barrier to potential employees, you can widen the bet to employees whose personal circumstances may previously have counted them out. Remote working enables employees to find employment and build work schedules around other priorities in their lives. Whether this is caring for children or other family members, studying, intense sports training, or perhaps some creative activity, remote working could be the answer.
In this case, remote working achieves even better results, the more flexible you are prepared to be over working hours. For example, a young parent may want to take a bit of time off during the day for school runs events but will always make up the time after the kids have gone to bed. Or a keen runner might do a long run some mornings but work later to get things finished. Or how about one of your workers enjoying a long al fresco lunch on a sunny day because they’ve already been up since 6am getting their work done.
For remote working to really work for everyone there needs to be trust and flexibility on both sides, so that as long as people are there when you need them to be, and as long as the work gets done – and done well – it shouldn’t matter the exact times people are working.
Having explored some of the advantages of running an office-based vs a remote working business, perhaps – as always – the ideal answer is a compromise between the two. A hybrid working culture with a small office base, where some employees can work as needed, and meetings can be held; supplemented by remote working for most employees. This could provide your business with the benefits of both an office to provide a base and a place for human interaction, and also remote working for the kind of flexibility we explored above.
We hope that this article has provided some helpful ideas about potential ways to develop your business and see it grow from strength to strength. For more tips and information on digital marketing and business issues do check back in with us again here soon at Xcite Digital.