The American workplace is in the midst of a significant transition brought on by the COVID pandemic. As you know, millions of employees began working from home when their offices closed last spring. More than a year later, many workers still haven’t returned to the office. It would appear as though remote work is here to stay. That leaves employers having to expand work environments to accommodate remote employees.
The concept of expanding work environments does not have to be complicated. For starters, consider a principle set forth in a recently published post on the BenefitMall All Perspectives blog. That post posited on the idea that embracing remote work is tied to embracing technology in three ways:
- Remote work environments are built on technology
- The right technology makes remote work more efficient
- Technology and efficiency can improve the remote employee experience.
These three principles make one thing clear: expanding work environments in the post-COVID era is all about utilizing technology to its fullest extent. Companies managing to do so will win the remote work game.
Outfitting Home Offices
The first place to look for opportunities to expand is the employee’s home itself. Is there a room in the home that can be dedicated to work? And if so, how can the company help equip that home office? These are the types of questions being asked by employees hoping to offer a new remote work fringe benefit.
Some homes are more conducive to remote work than others. Size and layout have a lot to do with it. At the very least, employers can help facilitate working from home by providing the necessary equipment and making sure employees have high-speed internet access.
It may be that working remotely from home is inappropriate for a particular company. Not a big deal. Employers can opt for co-working spaces instead. A co-working space is a commercial space at which multiple people from different companies do their work. They pay a monthly or weekly rental fee in exchange for desk space, internet access, and other technology services.
For some employers, investing in co-working space makes a lot more sense than renewing an expensive lease on a downtown office building. Allowing remote workers to gather at co-working spaces still facilitates collaboration while simultaneously reducing overhead costs.
Expanding work environments can affect scheduling as well. For example, a worker who used to arrive at the office by 7:30 AM may no longer be ready to start from early at home, thanks to the distractions created by kids running around and getting ready for school. Could that employee start at 8:30 instead?
Flexible scheduling gives employees opportunities to choose the best times and best work environments. The right choice today might be a co-working space from 9 to 5. Tomorrow, it might be the home office with a later start time.
Embracing All of the Possibilities
Given technology’s potential to strongly support the remote work model, we are quickly approaching a point at which work location is irrelevant to many industries. The key to making the most of it is embracing all the possibilities.
Companies around the country sent their office workers home by necessity when the original COVID lockdowns began in early 2020. By and large, they are free to start bringing employees back to the office at their convenience. And yet, permanent remote work is also a possibility. It is a possibility that has expanded work environments written all over it. Companies willing to seize the opportunity will set the stage for tomorrow’s workforce.