Eight Ways The Virtual Workplace Could Be Costing You Talent
No more missed Amazon deliveries, a home-cooked lunch every day, save money on travel… Aren’t virtual workplaces fantastic
In many ways… yes.
Working from home offers a wealth of benefits that are difficult – if not impossible – to replicate in an office environment. With emergent technology making it easier than ever to set up a satellite office on the sofa, it’s no wonder that more than 1.54 million people work from home for their main job.
Far from just an employee perk, employers also experience numerous advantages from setting up virtual workplaces.
Providing the infrastructure to allow remote working is often very cheap in comparison to the cost of the usual overheads; electricity, water, hygiene products and cleaning are all bills that can be reduced by lessening footfall to the office.
In addition, businesses can easily scale the size of their workforce without needing to find new premises when staff numbers grow or shrink; all the while, they’ll attract fresh talent – who needn’t work in the local area.
However, virtual workplaces aren’t without their pitfalls.
Just as working from home can be difficult to replicate in an office environment, there are many elements of working in a well-considered office that will be missed when the majority of your staff are remote.
If you’re considering a virtual workplace, think carefully about any drawbacks before you implement the strategy (after all, it’s likely to cause some disruption when you put it in place – and potentially even more if you then decide to change tack).
When not managed correctly, the virtual workplace can actually cost you talent (or at the very least, stop you using that talent to your full advantage). Here’s eight ways that this could happen in your business – and how to fix it.
No man is an island – especially in the workplace.
Working remotely could cause a problem if you require your teams to frequently huddle. Will your brainstorming sessions work as effectively through a computer screen? How about your plan of action – will it still work seamlessly when not all colleagues are present?
Will the rapport between colleagues suffer if they rarely communicate face-to-face?
Although technology makes it simple for employees to connect, the nuances of stopping by a colleague’s desk for a chat – or even saying hello while they make a cup of tea – are impossible to replicate digitally.
Teamwork and collaboration will likely suffer if employees are not given the opportunity to get to know each other, even casually, day-to-day.
3. Client Perception
When guests visit your office, do they enjoy meeting your staff? Will they take your business seriously if most of your colleagues are working from home? Will they have faith that they will receive the right support, at the right time? Will they trust your unseen talent?
Nobody knows your clients better than you…!
Will your digital infrastructure cope with numerous staff members accessing resources from home?
Will your data remain secure when it’s moved to a cloud platform?
In order for your talent to thrive, it needs to be protected from the digital threats that could cost your business dearly.
When your staff work from home, you must trust them; so, it’s your responsibility to hire people who will do the job justice, wherever they’re located.
Even if your staff are honest and work to the best of their ability, their productivity may still be held back if they work remotely.
Will there be issues that can only be resolved when your talent is ‘in the room’ – or will they be resolved far more slowly without their physical presence?
A virtual workplace might be a fantastic hook for recruitment – but it can’t be the only true benefit.
If your staff don’t feel connected to their colleagues or passionate about the company they work for, they might find it a little too easy to sever ties and move on to another workplace with similar benefits – but a higher salary.
Your staff are all different by nature – and many will be social animals, even if they’re not extroverts.
If your staff work from home every day, they may start to feel lonely. In fact, idle conversation by the water cooler could be more important to their mental health than either of you anticipated.
8. Negative Work/Life Balance
The virtual workplace may be pitched as the best of both worlds, but for many, living and working in the same environment will mean that they simply never switch off.
For those who can’t afford the luxury of a home office, everywhere is the office – and they lose out on a place to relax.
The virtual workplace can complement a physical one, but it shouldn’t replace it.
Rather than committing to one or the other, your staff should feel happy to work both remotely and in-house – combating many issues relating to isolation, teamwork, productivity and cohesion.
In fact, the modern office can allow for many of the perks of working remotely – such as comfort, privacy and relaxation. It’s all a matter of being creative with the space.
When mixed with the option of a virtual workplace, staff will have the freedom to use your office how it suits them best – allowing you to not only attract talent to your business, but keep it, too.
Ready to unlock the potential in your workplace? Download our office design guide today.
 ONS Labour Force Survey