The pandemic has created tremendous upheaval in how companies conduct business. As part of this change, some companies have completely reevaluated how they place their workforce. Pre-pandemic, companies would choose their office location primarily based on cost or location relative to the city center. However, this strategy may not be applicable to a workforce that has worked at home for the last year. In today’s day and age, choosing an office location is not what it used to be. The employee population approach is shifting the priorities of employers.
Let’s explore just what that means:
No More Commute
As we know, when the pandemic hit offices were closed, and employees were forced to work from home. It was a significant part of my last blog. Many thought that working from home would create a less efficient and less productive workforce. To the surprise of many, the opposite occurred. Companies found that employees working from home were happier and more productive. Avoiding the commute to the office meant employees began work without feeling the lingering frustrations associated with traffic. Plus, employees often started work earlier.
Moving forward, the question remains:
How do companies bring employees back to work while maintaining the same levels of productivity?
The answer: disregard the conventional wisdom about office placement.
The Importance of Human Capital
The new conventional wisdom emphasizes human capital, rather than actual capital. This means that companies should place office locations in proximity to their employee population. The closer a company can position its office location to its employee population, the better chance they have at maintaining the productivity seen during the pandemic. Placing the office in proximity to the employee population allows for shorter commute times, which encourages happier employees.
Given that many companies have an employee population spread throughout a region, this may mean opening several small offices, as opposed to a large centrally located office. The thought would be that any added cost is balanced by the revenue created from the increased productivity. Certainly, a company would not open multiple office locations if it was a drain on the bottom line.
Better For Recruiting, Too
The employee population approach to choosing an office may also be beneficial to companies in competitive industries such as tech. The ability to work in close proximity to where one lives may provide companies with a competitive advantage when recruiting skilled employees. This is largely due to employee happiness becoming an increasingly important factor to many post-pandemic. (Although, it was an important factor pre-pandemic too.
Though the employee population approach may not work for every company or industry, it does mark a deviation from the norm and sound strategy to maintaining productivity realized during the pandemic.