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Los Angeles businesses look to the future of remote work

As the clock counts down to June 15th, 2021, the date California aims to fully reopen, Los Angeles-based businesses are putting their plans in place to return to the office. According to the LA Times, less than 1 in 4 workers in Los Angeles had returned to the office by mid-April, fewer than earlier in the year due to a surge in COVID-19 cases. However, as the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccinations gathers pace, many businesses are focusing on bringing their employees back to the office safely and productively. 

While their main efforts will be focused on putting in place the necessary protocols, focus will also be on the future design of the workforce and optimum work model for the business and its employees. Although the leap to remote working has truly been made – whether companies wanted it or not – few are likely to become fully remote companies. 

Instead, we can expect the majority to adopt a hybrid work model.

What does a hybrid work model look like?

A recent article by tech hub BuiltIn looked at three possible hybrid models:

  1. Remote-first, which would see most employees continue to work remotely, most likely across different timezones and locations,
  2. Office-occasional, in which employees would work from the office two or three days a week,
  3. Office-first, remote allowed, which would signal a return to a popular pre-covid model in which the majority of the workforce is office-based but some exceptions are permitted.

Remote-first is not a viable option for all companies

The optimum work model will depend on dozens of factors, including operating model and organizational structure. For practical reasons, some businesses will simply not have been able to transition the mass of their workforce to working remotely, and while they may have found ways to incorporate it into their operations, are likely to adopt an “office-first, remote allowed” model.

Others, however, will have found themselves making lemonade out of lemons and using the pandemic as a catalyst to reengineer parts of the business to make “remote-first” or “office-occasional” models viable long-term options.

Key considerations when evaluating a work model

As always, the best model will depend on striking the right balance between what is best for the business and what is best for the workforce and employees. While cost savings from downsizing office space and decreasing overheads is one major factor, employee productivity and wellbeing are another.

Some key questions that companies can ask themselves when evaluating their options are:

Can the job be done remotely?

This may seem like a question with an obvious answer, and in the case of physical or manual activities, it usually is. However, think of the many roles once deemed impossible to do outside of the office. Business assistant is one such example, but the boom in virtual assistant services proves that the answer isn’t always obvious. Even receiving mail can now be done digitally thanks to virtual mailboxes.

On the other hand, the fact that Facebook, a digitally native brand, has announced that only 50% of its workforce will be able to work fully remotely goes to show that many jobs still require office presence.

What’s clear is that fully answering this question now requires the ability to tap into the latest technology trends and understand the options available

Do all my employees suit remote work? 

Even if the job can be done remotely, there may be reasons why it’s not for everyone.   Examples include:

  • working mothers, many of whom have found themselves shouldering the responsibility of childcare while working at the same time, can suffer from burnout
  • people who live alone can experience feelings of isolation and subsequent mental health issues
  • people who do not have the space or privacy to work, including those who may require specific ergonomic setups to be able to work safely.

Can I maintain a strong corporate culture via remote tools? 

This is a concern for many companies whose employees are used to working in a buzzing office environment. Face-to-face interaction with leaders and colleagues is one of the key ways corporate culture thrives and is something employees have most missed about not being in the office

Managers have found increasingly creative ways to connect with their teams remotely, including “Ask me anything” sessions, and “lunch for five” where 5 people from the company are randomly selected to have a virtual lunch together. However, effectively conveying corporate culture messages to employees at home without it feeling intrusive is challenging.

Choosing the right work model is unchartered territory for almost all businesses, but what seems certain is that the office environment will still play an essential role, whether it is full-time, part-time, or occasionally.

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