After the Coronavirus stormed the globe in early 2020, the business world has been left reeling. Many businesses that couldn’t afford to survive the lockdowns closed their doors permanently while others just barely stayed afloat by cutting staff dramatically and allowing those who were left to work from home remotely. The success of remote work during this time — and how easy it was to transfer many jobs to a virtual office — naturally has business owners wondering if it’s even necessary to have a traditional office in a post-COVID-19 world.
Our Toronto IT services team at Tektonic continues to work with GTA businesses as they return to the office, re-open their stores…and try to figure the best plan moving forward.
Traditional Brick & Mortar Offices
Prior to the first quarter of 2020, brick and mortar offices were the norm for most companies. Some companies that were ahead of the game hired remote workers for specific outsourced tasks, but few businesses ran their organizations entirely or even partially online.
What Are the Benefits?
- A comfortable, engaging workplace is still among the top two considerations for prospective talent
- Communicating with team members is often easier in person
- Foot traffic and a storefront are essential for retail businesses
What Are the Drawbacks?
- High overhead costs
- Indoor and outdoor building maintenance
- Increased risk of COVID-19 transmission and by proxy an increase in your business’ liability
The Bottom Line About Traditional Offices in a Post-COVID World
Unfortunately, even when you follow CDC-recommended Coronavirus guidelines, having a physical office right now is an additional risk. Whether that risk is worth the reward depends largely on what type of business you have and what kind of losses you’ve already experienced. If you’ve tried moving towards a virtual office during lockdown without success, you may want to consider going ahead and reopening your office if staying closed means closing your business. Be sure to implement extra handwashing and hand sanitizing practices, require and offer masks or other facial coverings, and utilize social distancing.
As the Coronavirus rampaged across the U.S. in February and early March, businesses began to close as governers imposed curfews and lockdowns in various states and localities. Companies began to transition to remote work and quickly learned how to utilize virtual tools like conference call and project management software to keep their businesses afloat. What they realized was that a virtual office could not only help them stay in business during the pandemic but also resolved many staffing and finance issues that companies had already been experiencing.
What Are the Benefits?
- Reduced overhead costs due to no longer having to pay to operate a brick and mortar building
- Improved work-life balance for employees
- Elimination of COVID-19 transmission in the physical workplace and your company’s liability for staff infections
- Difficulty monitoring the activity of employees who are working from home
The Bottom Line About Virtual Offices in a Post-COVID World
The truth about virtual offices after the Coronavirus is that many jobs can easily be done remotely. Not all of them can, but the world was surprised at just how little it took to make virtual work accessible to employees after lockdowns went into place. Remote work is here to stay and many industries will be looking at how they can transfer some or all of their workforce to virtual offices to save on overhead costs.
How Your Business Can Implement Flexibility
For many companies, selecting either a brick and mortar or a virtual office work experience isn’t what is best for business. Instead, your company may benefit most from a blend of the two. Depending on the needs of your business, it may make more sense to have a skeleton crew in-office to work with customers who are not able to work online with your base of virtual employees. If the pandemic worsens, you can transition in-office employees to remote work using already established methods and software.