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Six Tips to Help You Successfully Evaluate If Homeworking is Right for Your Business Post Lockdown

Homeworking or Back to the Office?

Moving to homeworking was supposed to be short-term. It was done to combat a virus that has wreaked economic devastation and brought with it incredibly damaging disruption as businesses scrambled to make it possible for their employees to work from home. It is therefore entirely understandable that getting back to the office is seen as the goal.

If you are running a retail shop, restaurant or a pub, your business depends on your physical space and you need to return, but for office-based businesses the answer is not so clear cut. Remote working is not new. It has many benefits and has been implemented to varying degrees already in many businesses across the world. You may even have thought about deploying it, but in the midst of running a business, just didn’t have the time to take the plunge. Coronavirus has now made you take that plunge. It would a shame now to not see if you can find a positive from the crisis.

 In this article we will provide our guide to evaluating if staying remote is right for your business.

Evaluating Business Performance

Creating the balance sheet of benefits vs disadvantages starts easy. The most obvious benefit of keeping your company working from home is the opportunity for considerable savings on your rent and office overheads, especially in these uncertain times. Unfortunately, the next step, evaluating business performance during the lockdown is a much more complex process. Simply looking at revenue wouldn’t provide the whole picture at the best of times, but definitely not now as the economic downturn has severely hit business, irrespective of the performance of your employees at home. Focusing on the KPIs of your employees during the homeworking period compared to before will give a much more accurate picture, but only if certain considerations are made.

Adjust Measurement Periods

Don’t look at the KPIs for the whole period of homeworking as an average as even the best prepared company with the right cloud software in place and a full workforce of single people not needing to home school will need a period of adjustment. Look at the numbers for the last few weeks. If they are down compared to pre-lockdown, try to look at them on a weekly basis to see if things are on an upward trajectory. 

Look for Sales KPIs Beyond Revenue Generation

 To judge sales and marketing on just revenue generation KPIs will not give you much insight into their ability to perform from home - Don’t forget we are in a recession and no matter where they were working it would be very difficult for them to now achieve their targets. Look for other indicators like the number of calls they are making.

 Go Much Deeper Than the Numbers

In the case of other departments - engineering, customer service and designers - where the KPIs are not directly tied to revenue generation, it should be much easier to make that comparison. However, if they are not reaching their KPIs don’t just stop there and say it is proof that home working isn’t successful, interview them in depth to find out the reasons. Why? Because these things may be solvable at a cost which makes homeworking still make sense for you. Below are some examples of possible issues:

Technology – Homeworking had to be done in a hurry, so you made it possible. However, do your staff have the best set of remote communication, collaboration and customer engagement tools at their disposal? Are they having to remote into their desktop and it was slow or continually crashing? Are they using a bunch of separate messaging, video and project tools instead of a unified solution? There are numerous cloud-based tools that can overcome these issues, benefit your business no matter where your employees are and can be deployed quickly with minimal outlay. Remember, the end of the lockdown it is not going to be the end of coronavirus meaning you should make sure your business is future proofed with this technology anyway.  

Individual circumstances – Did they have young children and had to dedicate lots of time to home schooling them? If they were a successful employee in your company before, you should not be penalizing them as coronavirus wasn’t their fault. You might think that the obvious answer is that you need to reopen the office for them, but the children will go back to school soon and then this employee will likely be able to produce their previous productivity levels, even from home.

Successful Performers

Don’t forget to also ask the employees who are succeeding and meeting their KPIs. It may be that they are working harder because of a reduced commute, gossiping less or simply enjoy it more. It may be that they found a piece of software that works really well for them and are using it within their team. This information should help you come up with ways to improve performance across the company.

Understand Staff Preferences

If everything went well at home, you should gauge the feelings of your employees to see if want to return. While some may have enjoyed working at home, others will have just responded professionally, and be looking forward to getting back to work. If so, and they are extremely valuable employees you don’t want to lose, then it is a reason to reopen. If you think it is in the overall best interests of your business to stay closed, then you could consider incentivizing these employees to stay home.

Similarly, some employees may well be enjoying staying home and now see it as a perk. They may decide to leave if they are not allowed to stay home.

Wider Outlook

While employee performance is the main driver for evaluating whether to go back to the office, other issues should be considered.

Firstly, the economy taken a severe hit with dire growth predictions for at least the rest of the year and 2021, meaning your business may not return to previous revenue figures for a couple of years and you need to find anyway to keep down costs.

Secondly, even when lockdown ends, it is unsure if coronavirus will return in the short-term and then again in a year or so. With that in mind, we should ensure we have the technology, habits and practices in place to move back to home working at any time.

Thirdly, fear of coronavirus is a real concern among many employees; they are fearful of mixing again and this has the potential to impact their performance. If you are situated where public transport is the only way to get to your office, not only will employees be worried about coming to work, they are at a greater risk of getting sick as the virus hasn’t been eliminated. This will have major repercussions not only for their health, but your business as suddenly a large number of your employees will have to go into quarantine.

Pulling It all Together

Once you have a clear picture of how your company performed during lockdown, it is time to weigh up the pros and cons. In some cases, it might be extremely clear cut: everyone adapted well, and performances stayed consistent, or the opposite and it is absolutely necessary to get everyone back in. However, for many businesses the situation is likely to be less clear. If this is the case, it would be helpful to translate those performance KPI differences and the possible impact of another outbreak on your business into numbers to help you decide.  

It may be necessary to reopen for certain departments, individuals or situations. In which case the answer might be to move to a smaller office.

It might be that while performance was slightly down, your assessment of what is likely to play out in the wider environment over the next few years, leans you to the conclusion it is necessary to stay with remote working.

Conclusion

Every business is different, but a thorough assessment of the impact of homeworking on your business might reveal an opportunity to make your business more successful. 



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