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August 4, 2021

WFH or Go Back to the Office? Skip the Debate and Let Staff Decide

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After a year or more of working from home, the idea of going back to an office is a mixed bag for many companies. Do we keep working from home? Do some of us return to the office some of the time? How do we connect around new goals and objectives when the world is changing at a rapid pace?

Legit questions—and most of the solutions are a matter of technology. Virtual worlds can help you keep business goals on track and support your staff in the coming months. Here, we’ll look at how you can approach a transition that could just make everyone happy. 

Everybody’s Different

One of the primary takeaways from the past year or so is that people have different needs. Sometimes, widely varying needs that change over time. 

If you’re in a leadership role, it’s vital to your company’s future that you make room for what this means on a day-to-day basis. It’s easy to create a blanket policy, but you’re likely to lose at least a few of your top performers if you do.

A new truth is emerging: Employees have been giving their best efforts while working from home and, in return, they’re seeking flexible arrangements. 

There are going to be people on your teams who feel strongly about getting back into the office or . . . never going back to the office. 

They may have lots of good reasons for their positions—how they feel about childcare, commuting, or their proximity to their own refrigerator—but it’s almost besides the point.

A recent labor report shows current job turnover is closely matched with open jobs. What does that mean? In today’s climate, it means people feel comfortable quitting their current jobs to find ones that are truly suited to who they are, what they offer, and what they need.

Meet their expectations, and you’ll continue to attract innovative talent while ensuring you promote an innovative culture.  

Team Office vs. Team WFH

You can resolve any tension around who works from where by being proactive.  

Create a framework that empowers everyone to align with company objectives. That way, teams can organize in units by department or by project focus.

Design New Ways to Work

  • Create schedule expectations that lighten the load. If physical office time matters, choose a couple of days when staff have to be within commuting distance. Make arrangements to include staff who are farther away. 
  • Design a virtual office with individual workspaces, plus inspiring meeting, presentation, and social area rooms. This is where you can meet on remote days or log in from the physical office to meet people anywhere in the world.
  • Communicate with staff, so they feel comfortable sharing thoughts and ideas. You may plan regular check-ins to discuss transitions or changing needs.
  • Experiment with different formats so everyone can reap the benefits of a virtual office or interact in physical space when needed. Be open to change.

A new set of business questions arises here: How can you satisfy KPIs? What’s best for project management? Is there space to collaborate without camera fatigue?

What we’re really talking about here are hybrid solutions. So if Shirley in Sales needs to talk things out while pointing at graphs on a board and Carl in Accounting needs to run numbers without distractions, they can both do that. 

You can still maintain physical office hours. Choose which days of the week everyone gets together in person—if they even have to—and pair it with the flexibility of a virtual space.

There’s a simple reason why this works in a virtual world. Virtual worlds are always on, so employees can choose when they need to meet. Brainstorm sessions take off with a group in the same room. Then, when it’s time to execute, everyone can go their own way to get the job done. 

Flexibility is built into the ideation or production that happens during sprints or loops. Need to review higher level points again? Wait until it’s a physical office day or get back together in your virtual office. 

As your company continues to transition into its best hybrid model, stay open-minded. You’re sure to learn more about your staff and how you can best support them as you work together—no matter where you are.

To get started with your hybrid work transition, reach out to sales@virbela.com.

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