When Should Your Startup Go Back to the Office?
2020 and COVID-19 took the world by storm and many startups had to adjust swiftly to the chaos and uncertainty it caused. Now, in 2021, one of the most common conundrums startups...
2020 and COVID-19 took the world by storm and many startups had to adjust swiftly to the chaos and uncertainty it caused. Now, in 2021, one of the most common conundrums startups are faced with this year is, when is the right time to return to the office?
Tech giants like Twitter and Amazon have already implemented an indefinite work-from-home policy, influencing more companies to follow in their footsteps. However, as a leader of a startup you will have to decide what is the next normal for you and your team.
Whether or not your tech startup already has an action plan, here are a few things to be mindful of when considering transitioning back to the workplace.
You will have to accept that things may never be the same for you or your tech company. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, but it will help if you can recognize and come to terms with this sooner than later.
Full transparency between you and your team is vital to being successful in this new adjustment. Truly understanding what works and doesn’t work anymore — 100% on premise, a blend, or indefinite remote — will help you formulate an enhanced and more efficient plan of attack.
You may also have to modify your priorities. With any change, what was important then may not be as important now.
Working from home has brought to light many benefits and advantages for startups and their employees. According to Business Insider, IBM conducted a survey concluding that 61% of respondents said “they would prefer to continue working from home after the pandemic.”
One major impact from remote work during the pandemic has been an overall improvement to mental health among employees. With people not having to commute to the office and back home, they have more time in the day for personal pursuits — family, hobbies, travel. With better time management on the part of your startup, productivity and creativity levels are almost guaranteed to rise.
Notably, the biggest advantage remote work has offered is a wider talent pool. Hiring remotely can allow your startup to find the most qualified and skilled workers no matter where they happen to live. Not having location as a hindrance can pave the way for more opportunities and success.
An additional advantage startups gain from a remote work model is significant cost savings. Not having to spend as much money for office rent and related expenses can provide leeway for more important funds such as talent acquisition, marketing and PR, or travel and events.
One of the most beneficial aspects of being in the office is getting to establish a genuine company culture. Startup culture specifically is well-known for being super creative, collaborative and innovative. Not having such in-person exchanges has led many startups to think outside the box and come up with ways to ensure employees and executives are still getting engaged and connected with one another. Re-inviting work to the office can spark a new, post-pandemic emergence of your startup’s values, culture and lifestyle.
Direct in-person interaction will probably always be the preferred method of effective communication. You might find that Slacks, Zooms, and emails can’t be as effective as a face-to-face meeting, which tends to naturally have more clarity on outcomes. Besides, in a remote environment you don’t have control over other people’s technical setup which can involve slow internet and connection problems.
Office-based work can make certain that you and your team are in sync with one another’s work and stay on the right track with respect to company strategy and objectives.
You’ve weighed your options of both remote and in-person work, and you’re still having decision paralysis. Luckily, you don’t have to choose one over the other. Try the hybrid method and implement a combination of remote and in-person.
The hybrid approach represents the best of both worlds, offering the flexibility that remote work grants, but also by allowing space for the in-person interactions and team building that mold the social conventions of your startup.
Regardless of whether you decide to have in-office days one or four times a week, you should enforce having all employees in on the same days to prevent workplace cliques from forming and give everyone a chance to sync up. You want the hybrid method to be useful, not harmful.
It will undoubtedly take some time to navigate this unconventional schedule, but give yourself some slack — other startups are going through the same thing and, ultimately, it’s all a process of trial and error.
About Kennedy Nunez: Kennedy is a Business Development Associate for Swyft, which is a tech PR firm in Austin and Houston and a top digital marketing and PR agency in Denver since its founding in 2011. Swyft recently opened a satellite office where it offers tech PR in San Francisco. Swyft was also listed as one of the top tech PR agencies in Texas by the B2B services review site, Clutch.co.