Technology changed the world. Walmart and Amazon changed the world. And, COVID certainly changed the world, as well. It wrecked businesses and countless lives around the globe not to mention the devastating number of wide-reaching deaths. Although a sense of normalcy has returned in some parts of the world, other parts are still reeling from the negative effects with many experts predicting a bleak fall and winter before vaccines are available and the pandemic starts to really subside.
Today’s reality has forced businesses to examine their entire operations and, in many cases, make radical changes to what was once standard operating procedures. Products and services offered to customers have changed. Methods of doing business have changed. Marketing has changed. Work hours have changed. Number of employees needed has changed. Cash and credit availability have changed. Actually, except for a relatively few select industries, most businesses have changed either willingly or forcibly. Change became imperative rather than an option.
As the global pandemic increased and communities were effectively closed down and individuals were sheltered in place, the world started seeing the normal workforce working from home…from businesses to schools to telemedicine. Everyone was finding a way to work remotely if at all possible. What many businesses found was that business could continue without employees being on site. Certainly, working remotely cannot be handled efficiently by all types of businesses; however, those businesses that could function via email, telephone, Zoom calls, websites, etc. found that pivoting to a new type of operation might prove to be a benefit in disguise. Employees enjoyed the safety and freedom of not commuting and not worrying about social distancing at work. Businesses could retool and find ways to eventually decrease the amount of real estate (office space) needed to operate. Again, not every business can fit into this category but for those businesses that do, it is a new normal in which to operate.
Dropbox Makes a Move
Dropbox with nearly 3,000 employees recently announced that it is becoming a “virtual first” company. This means that employees will first work remotely most of the time but will at specific times gather in a central location for strategic meetings and group collaboration. Dropbox plans to repurpose existing office space or investing in new or on-demand space as needed. Individual desks will be eliminated creating more space for collaborative activities. What was once office space occupied by a multitude of employees in one location will become known as “Dropbox Studios.”
According to Dropbox, remote work or being “virtual first” will become the norm for all employees with central collaborative locations established when needed for team building, community events, training, etc. In fact, the Dropbox Studios will specifically not be used for individual work or even drop-in work or desk sharing.
Is Remote Work a Possibility for Your Business?
Every business seems to be asking this question. Not only does the question need to be asked for the current situation that businesses find themselves in because of the global pandemic, but the question needs to be asked and answered regarding what operations will be like in the future. Will the business and world environment get back to what was once considered normal or is the business environment now changed forever?
When planning for the future, businesses must determine the most efficient way to operate, what is best for employees, and what will produce the greatest profits. Certainly, depending on the type of business, consideration has to be given for changing the way employees work…on-site or remotely.
While not all companies will adopt what Dropbox is planning, many companies already started transforming their office workplace into a hub-and-spoke model. This is where the company’s headquarters becomes the “hub” for meetings and important events while a network of smaller offices or “spokes” are created normally closer to where employees live. This arrangement can serve a dual purpose of reducing expensive office space while allowing employees to either work at home or closer to home avoiding commutes and generally working in a less disruptive atmosphere.
Choices to be Made
Each business must decide what is best for its future and how plans regarding location and employees coincides with its long-term strategic goals. One thing is certain: COVID changed the world.