The New Ways of Doing Business
A year of forced innovation and improvisation has transformed the way people work in ways both obvious (work from home, anyone?) and not so obvious. For businesses looking to the future, there are big decisions to make that could have a significant impact on the ability to attract and retain talent, and on maximizing the productivity and efficiency of employees.
Here are five questions employers should be asking themselves (and their advisors) about the ways they will work going forward. While the answers will differ from business to business, even small changes can affect your cash flow, business plan, and profitability.
What are your work-from-home policies for the future?
The pandemic helped prove that professional services and traditional “office” work can be performed from home effectively – and many employees like that arrangement. As offices can open again, employers have many choices along a continuum: permanent work from home; return to pre-pandemic office hours; or some hybrid. One size doesn’t fit all, and you’ll want to consult with both employees and customers – but you will need to decide. Make sure to consider your employees’ preferences and how a shift in work locations may impact your customers and business plan as you make your decision.
What can you do to attract scarce talent?
Talent can be especially hard to find for in-person manufacturing and retail jobs. In the near term, some workers may want to avoid face-to-face work for health reasons, and unemployment benefits from stimulus packages may make lower-paying positions less desirable. Competitive recruitment programs may require pay increases, generous benefits, workplace flexibility, or other perks. But keep in mind potential future labor pool changes, and stay open to new benefit ideas.
How are you ensuring security in a more digital workspace?
Homebound workers embraced digital productivity tools and processes during the pandemic, with paperwork going digital, video conferencing replacing meetings, and collaboration software changing workflows. It also led to a spike in scams, identity theft, and cybercrime in general, sometimes costing companies significant time and money. Businesses using new digital tools should have the security tools to match, and train employees to spot and stop cybercriminals.
How will your benefits change with new working arrangements?
Make sure your benefits are keeping up with the times. A robust benefit package is an excellent recruiting tool, and should be tailored to your workforce. Some businesses are leaning into wellness perks after the stress and health concerns of the past year. And if work-from-home is your business’s future, some benefits may need to be recalibrated – transportation accounts may be out, for example, and telemedicine-heavy health benefits may be in.
What does company culture mean in tomorrow’s workplace?
Building and retaining company culture has been a challenge for some businesses that have gone virtual. Skills and values must now be learned online, and employee bonding opportunities are scarce, even for in-person workers. It certainly is possible to build culture without in-person meetings, but if your company’s workforce has shifted to remote locations, you’ll need a new playbook.
These aren’t small questions, and they don’t have easy answers. Surrounding yourself with trusted advisors and guides is always important, but especially when it comes to decisions that affect employees. Alerus business advisors can provide insights and ideas drawn from across various industries, and help you identify how new ways of working may affect your bottom line.