Business Continuity: Will We Ever Be ‘Back in the Office’ As Before?

by | May 12, 2020

For your company, for your employeesfor your company’s relationship with your employees…what should the future look like? Will we accept going back to commuting en masse on jam-packed highwayswasting massive amounts of time, cutting short the “quality” time in our lives, while ratcheting up the stress factor, when we know—and have experienced—a different way? 

On one hand, there is a certain element of “trading paint” that happens when a whole company comes together in one physical place every day. It creates the opportunity for spontaneous collaboration that simply can’t happen on a screen, at scheduled times.  

However, these chance encounters and spontaneous confabs represent a tiny percentage of the actual time most people spend at an office in a 40-hour work week. Most of the time—on average 5 hours and 41 minutes per day, according to an article in Science Daily—they’re doing work at their desk. 

We’re Slowing Our Return to Office Life as We Know It

The old paradigms may be starting to fall like dominoes around the necessity of office life as we knew it, as a foundation of business functionalityWill work-from-home continue as part of the new normal heading into 2021 and beyond? So far, no one seems to be in a hurry to return to a status quo in which only 3.6 million Americans actually worked from home on a half-time basis or more, when 56% of the American workforce, or 75 million Americans, have jobs that are compatible with remote working. 

Tech Giants in No Hurry to Go Back

If you consider Silicon Valley’s top echelon of tech companies to be the “canary in the cool mine” as to what the “new normal” will look like for office work, much has happened in the first few days of May to consider 

Last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg informed employees that, while offices will reopen after the July 4 long weekend, most Facebook employees would be able to continue working from home for the remainder of 2020. Likewise, Google extended its work-from-home accommodation from June 1 to December 31, with some employees being allowed to return in June and July, as necessary. 

Northerly from Silicon Valley in Seattle, Microsoft extended work-from-home through the end of October, while its subsidiary, LinkedIn, offered the same to its employees with the added caveat that they would not tolerate retaliation against anyone that chose to take full advantage of the WFH policy. 

Even the Supreme Court is getting in on the remote work trend as, for the first time in history, justices heard oral arguments via conference call. It was the first time the justices were not together for oral argument, with each of them calling in by phone. The first time the audio of the argument was available live, streamed on news websites and available on C-SPAN. 

What Should You Do With Your Company?

We think that maybe the time has come to stop babysitting employees and give them back their time. After all, time is precious. And if you can’t trust your employees to attend to their duties diligently and professionally without direct physical supervision, should they even be your employees?  

Perhaps nothing else could be so transformative, so quickly, in our society than largely eliminating office work commutes and having more time to spend on our work and with our families. Maybe the time has come to let the grand roadways we’ve built breathe a little bit…as we have more time to breathe a little deeper the cleaner air and less hurried existence of an increasingly home-based life. What will you do? How will your company adjust? 

Whatever you choose to do, Imaging Office Systems can help you figure out how to set your company up for remote work success with cloud-based services and technologies that enable your company to work better together remotely!