If you’re like most businesses, you’ve been working in some sort of virtual environment for the past couple years due to the pandemic. As restrictions have been lifted, there has been a lot of talk around what the “new office” should be – or more specifically, where work will be conducted.
Let’s look at three common work environments and weigh the pros and cons of each: the Traditional Brick and Mortar Office, the Home or Virtual Office, and the Coworking Office. Each have benefits. All have drawbacks. But which one is best for you and your company?
First, you need to look at your company and ask several questions. What’s the size of your team? What’s the nature of your business? Is company and team culture important? How much capital can you put into office space? What’s your preference and lifestyle around work? Of course, there are hundreds more questions, but you get the point.
Okay, let’s dive into a few pros and cons of these workspaces.
Traditional Brick and Mortar Office
Enhances your brand and credibility by allowing you to create a customized, professional space for meeting with clients, vendors and employees.
Promotes collaboration and culture between coworkers, teams and departments while allowing employees to foster feelings of comfort and stability.
Strengthens security and privacy efforts by preventing sensitive information and privileged conversations from being seen or overheard by unauthorized individuals. Also gives employees the peace of mind knowing they can leave their laptops or personal belongings at their workstations when they have to step away.
Significantly more expensive than home or coworking offices when considering costs like rent, utilities, phone and Internet, maintenance, supplies, furniture, equipment and janitorial services.
Missed hiring opportunities due to your location. Length and time of commute or the physical location of your office can cause you to miss out on talent.
Lack of flexibility due to being tied to office lease terms. This significantly hinders your ability to grow staff, add equipment or expand your footprint.
Workplace drama is just about guaranteed when you ask a group of independent people to work in the same office.
Save time and money since you don’t have to deal with an office lease, commuting and other expenses that go along with traditional office spaces. Plus, you can deduct a portion of your home and expenses against the business on your taxes.
Enhanced flexibility when it comes to schedules and work environment. In today’s connected world, you can work from a coffee shop, a park or your home and never miss a beat. Plus, should an issue arise, there’s no need to have to go to an office to correct it – it’s all right there.
Minimal workplace drama since you don’t have people working in the same space every day, talking loudly or stealing lunches.
Limited hiring capabilities and growth potential can become an issue since many people do not want to work out of someone’s house. As well, home and virtual offices oftentimes lose credibility as they are seen as “Mom and Pop” operations.
Culture, communication and convenience are sacrificed when there is no place to easily collaborate with team members, meet with clients and vendors, or simply celebrate victories together. Even more, communication miscues occur more often on telephone, email and video conferences versus face-to-face interactions.
Distractions can be more common when working virtually. Think kids, loud coffee shops and laundry.
Greater flexibility and cost savings over brick and mortar since you’re not tied an expensive long-term lease, there’s no furniture to buy, and oftentimes coworking spaces can provide professional services and equipment. Plus, you can expand and upgrade you team as needed without worrying about space.
Enhanced collaboration and camaraderie between employees, teams and departments. Many coworking spaces even have cafes, pet-friendly policies, ping pong tables and a vibrant, creative aesthetic to add to your company’s culture.
Professional services, equipment and meeting spaces are available. From having a physical address with mail service, to receptionist and IT support, to meeting and collaboration space, you get the benefits of a traditional office without the cost or commitment.
Lack of privacy and security can be a big factor in coworking environments. Sensitive or privileged information can be compromised or seen more easily by others outside your organization. Plus, you have to pack up your laptop, purse and other personal or valuable items every time to step out for lunch, a meeting or any other time you leave your workstation.
Distractions are abundant. With lots of people from lots of companies doing lots of different things, coworking offices can get loud and chaotic making it harder to focus.
Lack of a professional branded image is a major downfall with coworking offices. You cannot decorate or create an environment that represents the essence of your company.
Harder to secure meeting space when you’re sharing the same meeting rooms with several other companies.
Improved work-life balance is probably the biggest benefit of the hybrid model. Giving people more control over their schedule and offering flexible working options empowers employees and helps them adapt to their individual situations.
Collaboration is much easier in a face-to-face setting. Teams can work together to determine the optimal time to all meet in the office.
Greater productivity is a common positive that comes from hybrid environments. People can determine the most optimal work environment for their needs on a day-by-day basis and adapt accordingly, helping to minimize distractions and enhance focus.
Managing employees can be challenging in a hybrid work environment. Keeping track of who in in the office and who is working from home changes daily. This makes it more challenging to schedule meetings and brainstorming sessions, capitalize on training and development opportunities, and create a sense of camaraderie.
IT headaches can arise when employees work from different locations on different days. On the one hand, your data needs to be protected at all times. On the other hand, these protections oftentimes make remote working more cumbersome – especially from a public Wi-Fi like at a coffee shop.
Customer perception can become an issue. Should a customer come to your office for a meeting and find a large percentage of the office staff missing, it might not leave the best impression, even if you have the customer’s entire team present.
By no means is this intended to be the “end-all-be-all” checklist of considerations. Far from it. In fact, there are workarounds for just about everything mentioned. It’s really meant to get you thinking a bit more about the best working environment for your company based on the way you need to work, and the way you want to work. Hope it helps.