As Coronavirus began to turn the economy upside down and forced many to work from home, business owners wondered just how they might survive. Thankfully, the Government stepped up to offer help in the form of business loans, tax relief and support for furloughed staff. However, it’s a bit like throwing a buoyancy aid to someone in trouble. You can stop them from drowning, but they still need to swim to safety, dry off and get back to normality.
The current economic climate is a rather precarious one right now and businesses are having to carefully consider how they can go the distance financially. There is still so much uncertainty ahead. If we satisfy the urge to return to normal too quickly, we could find ourselves in and out of lockdown and further turbulence created as a result really could spell the end for some companies.
How do we futureproof our businesses?
Switching to a permanent working from home scenario would seem logical. It could present significant cost-savings on office space and business rates going forward and allows businesses to become resilient to the possibility of more restrictions.
The last little while has seen us juggle working from home with home-schooling, the organisation of financial support and the management of mental health. Overall, we have adapted to working from home, and we have seen a notable shift in the mentality of business leaders who are now considering making this the norm.
Imagine just how productive we would all be without the distractions mentioned here; in short, working from home under normal “non-lockdown” conditions.
Could reducing office space be the answer?
What if we reduced our offices to much smaller, more affordable spaces that house a handful of hot desks for staff to use on rotation? Office attendance could be limited to a daily capacity that staff share on a pre-agreed rota. Alternatively companies could rent a meeting space for weekly or monthly meetings, with virtual working in between meetings. For the interim, if not foreseeable future, businesses could operate largely from home. We know this because we are doing it now.
Of course, this comes with some concerns. Not everyone’s personal life allows them to work from home, in which case employers would need to be flexible. Additionally, there is the valid worry about connectivity and people feeling cut off. Internet connection speeds may vary, and equipment might have limitations in terms of capability; all things that would need to be ironed out.
Adaptability is key
What we can see is that people are able to adapt. During lockdown, people went virtual almost overnight to continue socialising, with virtual quizzes, live music streams and zoom parties all popping up on social media. The tech is there, it just needs to be accessible to all staff to ensure they have strong communication lines and feel connected.
At some point, we have to face the fact that we are moving closer and closer to a virtual world. Maybe Covid-19 was the push we needed to virtualise our offices, streamline costs and improve efficiency and productivity levels, who knows. What we do know is that financial survival is at the top of the agenda.