Now that the COVID-19 vaccine is rolling out, many businesses are seeing the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. The past 14 months have caused plenty of challenges, especially for small businesses. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:
“Only four in 10 (40%) of all small business owners believe their business can continue to operate indefinitely without having to shut down permanently.”
Getting back to business as usual means that more small businesses will survive the pandemic fallout. And that’s good news! Small businesses have had to get creative to stay afloat until now. One of the most common shifts has been moving operations to some sort of virtual space. For public-facing service operations, this meant taking orders online or by app and providing curbside food pickup and delivery options. For office-based operations, this meant decentralizing the staff to work from home and connect via technology. A recent survey found that “before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 17 percent of U.S. employees worked from home 5 days or more per week, a share that increased to 44 percent during the pandemic.”
Another study found that about 67% “of businesses that have adopted remote work policies as a result of COVID-19 plan to keep at least some of those policies in place long-term or permanently, according to a recent study.”
With stats like that, it’s safe to say that most of you who are small business owners are now wrestling with the same question:
Should you remain virtual after COVID restrictions fade or do you return to your pre-COVID operational routine?
There’s no one right answer, of course. Your business has a unique set of circumstances and variables that will dictate the most profitable choice. Because my expertise rests in strategic financial management, I want to help you think through the various factors from that angle. Here are some specific trade offs to consider:
Pros of Staying Virtual
- Save Office Space Expenses. Going remote may save you thousands of dollars each month in expenses associated with maintaining a physical space. Although this seems like a 100% pure win, you need to weigh that monetary savings against the new tangible expenses of remote work and the intangible cost of staying virtual.
- More Time for Deep Work. With employees working from home, disruptions from co-workers will drop significantly, opening space for more productive, deep-focus work. But don’t forget about the distractions of working from home, such as family members and pets and household upkeep.
- Improved Work-Life Balance. You’ve probably noticed how short your commute is now that you are working from home! In less than a minute you can be at your desk, ready to work. More time at home allows everyone to be more grounded and less frenzied, which is a plus for mental health.
Cons of Staying Virtual
- Loss of Culture. Interpersonal connections are foundational to your company’s culture. When your team is no longer together every day, you’ll have to be purposeful in building and maintaining the culture you have in mind.
- Decreased Collaboration. Your team will lose out on vital collaboration opportunities by staying virtual. To offset this, you’ll need to invest in tech tools and develop solid communication processes and team routines to keep everyone talking and working together.
- Diminished Emotional Health. Prolonged disconnection and isolation aren’t good for anyone’s emotional health. We are communal creatures, so even though remote working can help us do deep work, it also prevents us from the healthy human connections we need.
Take some time to consider how these pros and cons line up for your business as you look ahead to creating a new, post-COVID normal. Whether you plan to be virtual or in-person or some combination of the two, Officeheads is here to provide financial planning and strategy help. Reach out today to learn more!