The world has changed, and it’s about time we accepted it. Whether we like it or not, the global pandemic has altered the way most workers approach their employment. Jobs that were always assumed to be “office only” were done remotely during times of quarantine. Some companies and organizations switched to an at-home model for over a year! Conventional wisdom said that when things were ready to return to normal, employees would be eager to return to an office setting and get back to work the way they used to.
Conventional wisdom was never more wrong! Instead, workers got a taste of a new paradigm, and many never wanted to go back. Who can blame them? Being able to perform their duties in the comfort of their own home, with no commute and no pressure to look their best save for the occasional video conference meeting, was an incredible feeling. Given that productivity actually rose during the pandemic, as you can see here, the whole arrangement seems to have been a win-win for everyone! Employees were happier, productivity was up, and everybody benefitted from a remote work arrangement.
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Why, then, are many companies choosing to return to an in-office setting for all workers? It’s no surprise that some employees are less than thrilled to be going back to the office when they’ve been working happily from home for so long. In fact, many people are choosing to leave their jobs entirely instead of going back. Smart employers realize that keeping the work force happy is the key to productivity, and that there’s no reason some (most!) jobs can’t be done just as easily from home. Here are a few positions to consider keeping as remote.
One of the most obvious candidates for a permanent change is payroll. There isn’t a single function of payroll that can’t be done remotely. Especially with the myriad of options for payroll solution that are more than up to the task, moving this function to a remote position just makes sense. Like the other jobs on this list, your payroll department is all digital anyway. Some employees may still want physical checks, but those are all generated by the system anyway! As long as you invest in a good payroll program, which you frankly should have been doing all along anyway, keeping these staff home is a good way to keep your company healthy with no downside to you.
This is another no brainer for remote work. If your company has a department dedicated to calls, either inbound calls from customer or client looking for help or outbound sales calls, there’s nothing about the job that can’t be done from the comfort of home. Even state government agencies know this, and kept their call departments working from home for almost two years – a fact this author knows from personal experience. Call services can be a stressful job, and maximizing employee comfort to reduce that stress is a smart move for keeping them engaged – and, working for you.
Leading a team can be hard work. Lower-level employees rarely understand the demands of being in charge of a whole group of people, balancing their needs with the demands of the job. It can be stressful for a good manager. Fortunately, part of that stress can be mitigated by allowing your managers to avoid the office completely! Yes, even leading a team can be accomplished in more cozy environs with nothing but good internet access and a good mind for keeping things organized. If your team is already working remotely, why not manage them remotely? A low stress manager is a happy one, and being able to direct company efforts while in pajamas is as low stress as it gets!
This position does require more consideration to do right. While most workers can get away with a laptop and a place to sit, managers require a little more to get the job done. A good home office setup is important for any worker, but doubly so for a manager, who may need access to a printer, scanner, and other workplace necessities. Additionally, if you don’t have the right person in the role, you may find some growing pains when it comes to keeping on top of employees. The downside of working from home is that home is, frankly, full of distractions. While writing this article I have personally been tempted to play with my puppy! Managing employees is easier in an office setting where everyone is together, and more difficult when everyone is apart and surrounded by distractions. For this, your managers need to be able to keep a team motivated and on task despite these potential roadblocks.
IT Department – Kind Of
This is the big one, the holy mother of all remote work challenges. There are two factors to consider with your IT department working out of the office: the software and the hardware. Most IT functions are tailored to an interconnected office, and moving everyone away from that comes with its own challenges. Your IT department will be instrumental in making sure your employees have the tech capabilities necessary to actually perform their jobs. Once set up, many IT functions can also be performed away from the office, particularly those that involve employee interfaces with central office servers.
However, some IT functions require technicians to be in the office at all working hours. The network and software functions may allow for remote working, but maintaining the physical structure and architecture behind those capabilities requires someone with direct access to the servers. While you can let some of your IT professionals work from home, your core team should remain in the office to make sure that the central network is running smoothly. One of the points of switching to a remote model is to reduce overhead costs and increase productivity; doing so with your entire IT department would necessitate moving your server function off site, which is literally the opposite of that. Be cautious and discerning about your IT professionals, and be sure to keep a core team on hand to keep the system running smoothly.