You might feel like you’re getting whiplash reading the WFH news. Some articles say all employees hate the office and want to stay home forever. Others say WFH is bad for us, bad for promotions, and people really miss the office. So which is it? And as a leader, how should you take this information and build a location culture that works for your people? Here’s a four-step process for creating your work location strategy.
Consider your own biases
Talk to your team
Define the problem
Launch and iterate
Consider your own biases. Think about what YOU want. This is a surprising early action to take. Still, until you’re honest with yourself about how your own bias affects this decision, it will be hard to go into the rest of location planning in a way that best benefits the business and your employees. The work location question touches on a variety of pain points, so you want to assess where you fall on each of these and why. Your approach to commuting might be different if you feel OK paying for parking and thus drive your own car. Lower-income employees might be financially-driven to take public transport, changing their view of their morning transit. Acknowledging your position lets you see other people’s preferences in a more empathetic light.
Talk to your team. What do they want and why? The why is important. Maybe your team’s output is individual contributor, focus-type work, and there’s little need for group decision making. You’d expect this to impact how the team sees collaborative work and thus in-person schedules. Conversely, maybe you run a sales organization full of vibrant phone calls, where the noise can be an energy driver for some but a distraction for others. And looking to the future, how will remote workers feel if some people do come into the office? Lastly, how much of the team’s current perspective is colored by the pandemic, like stress over childcare due to school closings or fear of contracting the virus? These and other questions specific to your team need to be asked and answered to paint a picture of how location affects your team’s success, both pragmatically and emotionally.