Economies are reopening and businesses are trying to contend with constantly changing regulations. For most businesses, mobility has been all but halted. More companies are moving away from the working from the office model to the working from home model. Is this right for every business, and if it is, how do you know?
Can the company handle it?
Working from home is a different operating model. Staff will work differently, will be available in different ways, and will interact with customers using different methods.
Is your business customer facing? I don't mean do you take phone calls, I mean do you actually need to see them! For some, ordering groceries from the mobile app is great, but for others seeing the size of the onions and checking that the strawberry is at its ripest is a must.
Does the company have the technical infrastructure to support non-face to face working? Zoom, WebEx, and Microsoft provide solutions to a variety of different working from home challenges and the create a virtual community. Microsoft Teams and WebEx offer platforms to share files, conduct video conferences, and stream events imitating a physical conference room. Could your staff service their customers on these platforms, or is face to face still required to service their needs? Are your staff comfortable with not seeing each other? Are these platforms comfortable?
What policies does your company have to protect data? Remote working means online working for most. If your company does not have quality data protection policies and procedures (such as PCI policies or procedures that rely heavily on paper) information risks will mount and your company will be prone to misuse of data.
Are there any regulations which do not allow a company to work from home? Many health based organisations may have strict rules to follow to ensure privacy and customer protection. Check to see that your governing body allows working from home in your area.
Managing teams is another challenge. Checking in quickly or quietly overseeing how staff are doing isn't possible when everyone isn't in the same room. Your existing staff may not be ready to handle the loneliness challenge, or they may not be used to working for so long in front of a computer. Management also may have trouble not seeing their staff working especially if there is no metric to measure performance. Working from home is a two-way street, and managers should ensure the right KPIs are monitored.
The customer experience
For most service based companies, homeworking is a great solution to reducing costs and transitioning fixed costs to variable ones. Instead of spending money on office space per employee, those costs can reduced and budget reallocated to revenue streams, or better staff engagement programmes. But, what will happen to your customer experience? If a customer calls, who will answer the phone?
It's completely acceptable to change the client experience. Depending on your target audience, having a physical office space just isn't needed. Transferring resource from the customer call centre to an online support team might be a more effective way to process customer services and one which may be able to be done from home.
Should we do it?
Management should consider the change in experience and examine how their business operations in all areas including: account payable/receivable, customer services, and financial reporting. They also should consider employee well-being, work-life balance, and the ability to manage a virtual team.
Companies should examine all of their governance: processes, policies, and protocol and see whether or not they are flexible enough to account for homeworking. If they aren't, management should determine if changes can be implemented.
Hiring a consultant, such as Chayim Messer Consulting is a great way to determine whether or not you should formally change your corporate governance. Most of these changes only need to be made once, but poor planning or implementation could lead to problems in customer service, product delivery, or staff well-being. All could translate into poor business performance.
Contact Chayim Messer Consulting today for your free consultation, and let's determine if homeworking is right for your company.