Six months into the global remote work experiment, it is becoming increasingly clear that some of us love remote work, some of us hate it, and most of us are somewhere in the middle, opting for a mix of both remote and on-premise work.
Many people would love the option of working from a central space for just two to three days a week, as it offers them an opportunity for a change of scenery, and to connect and collaborate with other human beings.
Despite being long-time remote work laggards, corporate management teams around the world are encouraging their employees to work remotely. The forced experiment has quelled trust concerns, and also made many managers appreciate the benefits of remote work insofar as having more personal time and greater freedom to design one’s day is concerned.
Inevitably, this will drive down demand for office space, as organizations look to decrease, and in some cases eliminate entirely, the central office footprint.
The other obvious benefit this brings is cost savings.
The average annual office space rental cost per employee ranges from US$6,000 in markets such as Boston and Los Angeles through to US$14,000 in markets such as San Francisco and New York.
This can quickly add up.
A 100-seat office in Boston would set a company back US$600,000 a year, whereas a 500-seat investment bank in New York would be paying roughly US$7 million a year.
Even a 50% decrease in office footprint represents considerable cost savings.
Rather than account for said savings in profit, or reinvest it into product or marketing, management should reallocate some or all of the savings into their people.
Here’s where we should be investing to ensure our remote workers can be their best, offer them some of the luxuries of the modern office, and reinforce a positive company culture.
Care packages can boost morale and alleviate stress, and they’re something that both your people and their family or housemates can enjoy as well.
While it might be tempting to simply flip open your laptop on the kitchen table, and get to work, we’re not doing our bodies, or our minds any favours.
Workplace ergonomics have in fact been linked with reducing worker compensation claims by up to 90% (not a small amount when you consider that in Australia alone, companies spend $60 billion on workplace injury and compensation), and improving productivity.
It doesn’t need to be a lot, but something like US$20-$40 a week for coffee and snacks — the same kinds of snacks that employees can readily enjoy in the office — can go a long way.
Forget in house yoga and masseuses — let your people go to the gym when and where it suits them.
This is especially true if you’re scrapping the central office altogether. Giving people an event budget to attend local meetups and the like ensures that they can continue to connect with others and learn, something of upmost importance for your more extroverted employees.
Further to the previous point, if your people want the option of working from a central office for a couple of days a week, but you’re not keen on keeping the office, then you can rent access to a coworking space for a fraction of a dedicated office lease.
Doing this would only make for a happier and healthier remote worker, but would also help us acquire and retain talent for the long haul.