Are your Ready For Back to School? – Remote workers are here to stay
Companies now have major decisions to make regarding the deployment of their staff to home offices, is this a permanent thing or a temporary one? Well, this is a very hard decision to make if you are a parent with kids in schools as school boards are deciding what to do this fall. Some provinces like Ontario are advocating a hybrid (in-class and online at home) model and Alberta and British Columbia has the kids back in the classroom this fall. Universities and Colleges are adopting an online model for the fall semester
First, we are learning that some companies are discovering you don’t need the physical real estate to run their company. They are seeing the benefits of the virtual office set-up that can save money on office expenses. This model has been a staple of the publishing industry through the use of a network of contracted freelancers, who may work in 5 different locations. Some publishers even provided an office expense allowance and/or you can write off the home office expenses so their is a tax benefit to you personally.
Prior to Covid-19 in this USA Today article it was estimated that 8% of office workers in the USA worked remotely, like sales staff. With social distancing rules in effect it jumped close to 50%. It was forecasted that long-term remote workers will be about 25% of the workforce. Companies that have switched to this model are seeing productivity gains as workers do not have to commute to work and now communicate through video chats, email and text. Businesses that rely on the office worker for their business model will have to re-think their location strategy. A walk through the Eaton Centre in Toronto that caters to office worker look like a ghost town.
Sam Moncada from the Canadian Office Products Association has seen a drop in the demand for office supplies amongst their members. There will be a shift to individual purchases for office supplies as corporate bulk purchases will be hard to distribute with a growing remote workforce. So the HR department will have to manage an office expenses policy for home offices as they will need to purchase office supplies, furniture and computer equipment to outfit a home office. You better make sure you get a digital pen so your staff can sign digital documents on their smartphone, perhaps buy a printer/scanner for them, upgrade computers with a large curved screen for increased productivity and of course an office chair.
You will need to look at the data security concerns with more remote workers. Do you trust the cloud for your secret corporate data? If you have more remote workers the chances for a breach increase with each new external user to the network. So you will need to look at cyber security holes with the addition of more remote workers and educating them on phishing techniques that are on the rise again as hackers are back to work. (I have three colleagues who’s emails have been hack the past two weeks.) So you better be on high alert and not click on any attachments until you double check the send email address as names are being spoofed with faked email addresses.
You can say companies are now taking a page out of the criminal organizational business model where their is no office space for the head office, except the use of coffee shops, home offices and restaurants to conduct business. These organization knew how to keep office overhead costs low. Large organizations like Ontario Lottery Corp are considering all staff to work remotely this fall with weekly in-person meetings as the model going forward for 2020. Scotiabank is following suit with all their workers working from home. But can head office functions be done remotely like accounting, IT, HR and call centres. It appears yes is the answer just ask anybody in organized crime. LOL