Several months ago, without much warning, but much fanfare, your team was asked to work from home. Everyone worked hard to figure out how to make it work. And while it isn’t perfect (nor was it before March of 2020), most people have figured out how to at least get by – and maybe do better than that. Now the question looms, with less fanfare and urgency – When are we bringing people back to the office? Or are we going to at all?
The team is asking, “Where will we work?” And as leadership, you are likely thinking about it, and perhaps struggling with that decision. Here are some things to consider as you work through that decision-making process.
- Governmental guidelines. You need to understand they guidelines, guidance, and procedures. This article won’t help you with those, because they vary by location, and these aren’t my expertise. Just a friendly reminder to know and understand these regulations.
- Overall quality of work product. Since people have been working from home, what has been the quality of the work product? Are deadlines being met? In general, is the work being delivered in a satisfactory (at least) way? And what has the trend been? If the work product was great at the start of the lockdown, but the trend is in the wrong direction, do you know why?
- Stakeholder and Customer needs. Beyond the work itself, are the needs of those you are working for being met? What is happening to Customer satisfaction scores? Who else is being impacted and what would their impact be?
- Broader organizational implications. Can you make this decision of your business unit or location without it impacting other parts of the business? What other organization-wide factors must you consider?
- Desire of team members. Do you know what your team members want? While not a democracy, understanding their needs matters. Can you accommodate the desires and wishes of individuals? And if not, how will keep the team involved in your decision-making process?
- Impact on collaboration and culture. How are your culture and collaboration being impacted by remote work? Do you have concerns here that would need to be addressed if you decided to allow future working from home?
- Overall requirements. While I’ve asked a variety of questions across a number of factors, what else matters in your organization? Are their other implications or costs that need to be considered?
- Leadership preference. Lastly, and yes, I mean lastly, what do you or leadership at large prefer? Of course, your preferences matter, but they should be considered in context of all the other factors on this list.
This is a long list of criteria to consider. Unfortunately, too many organizations are only looking at the first and last ones on this list. Six months or more of working in a new way demands we reflect on what we have learned, and what we can integrate into the future of work. By looking carefully at your situation across all these criteria you will make a more informed and effective decision about the future of your work “place”.
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