Bye bye offices?

Discussion in 'COVID-19 Forum' started by Peter Cooper, Apr 11, 2020.

  1. Peter Cooper

    Peter Cooper UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    20 1
    Half question but also half "let's see what other small business people are thinking/doing"!

    My company rents three small offices in an enterprise centre. Because the council refused to treat them as one hereditament we don't qualify for SBRR so we're basically paying £2000/mo rent + rates for glorified desk and bookcase storage :cool: For a month or two, that's fine, but I've been seeing some reports (e.g. in Telegraph today - can't link, sorry) that working from home if at all possible may continue to be strongly encouraged for "months/years".. so could be quite a while!

    We're on a rolling month-to-month lease and we've adapted surprisingly well to working from home, so I'm thinking of just ditching the offices, stop paying rent and rates, and we could give employees £100 a month extra, say, towards the extra electricity/gas.

    Has the lockdown sent me loopy or is anyone else thinking along these lines for the future? Am I missing any obvious downsides in this plan? I appreciate it wouldn't suit many types of business, but for those that are entirely office based, I could see this taking off once people realise how much running an office actually costs and how little we get for our rates (and if Tesco doesn't have to pay any, I'd rather not either, TBH).
     
    Posted: Apr 11, 2020 By: Peter Cooper Member since: Oct 9, 2015
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  2. The Byre

    The Byre UKBF Legend Full Member

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    Running an office just so that you can see where people are is silly. I began paying people to work from home back in about 1990. Some had difficulties with that concept, for example, one girl asked at what time she should start working. I told her that it was up to her, as long as the work gets done!

    "I need X, Y and Z to be done by Friday. If you can do all that on a Friday morning and you spend the rest of the week lying in bed scratching yourself, that's fine by me - though I doubt that you'll manage that somehow!" were my exact words.

    We had an office, but if everybody had wanted to actually work there, we would have had to put desks up in the yard outside!
     
    Posted: Apr 11, 2020 By: The Byre Member since: Aug 13, 2013
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  3. Darren_Ssc

    Darren_Ssc UKBF Ace Free Member

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    I rent one small office and I find it pays for itself many times over. The amount of work I get done in a week compared to what I would do at home is beyond compare.

    I have employed someone previously who wanted to work from home but it just didn't work out. There was always a disconnect and what I found most annoying was waiting a few hours for response to a simple question that would be instantaneous in a normal office setting.
     
    Posted: Apr 11, 2020 By: Darren_Ssc Member since: Mar 1, 2019
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  4. Bluejen84

    Bluejen84 UKBF Regular Free Member

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    I first became self employed after a head injury left me too ill to work. I managed through previous contacts line myself up with work I could do from home. I also open am online store. I could worknthe hours I wanted. Of I was too sick then I didn't work. One company would generate work for me, I'd work in the evening and it was done for them by the time they opened the next day. It worked great for many years for me.

    It's not for everyone. You have to be disciplined and routined but for jobs that only involve a computer and a phone etc why can't you do them at home?

    I worked in a call centre for a bank but I essentially worked alone in a booth. If I needed help I phoned for help. Yes security is a question but I can't see it being different at home.

    There is alot of potential here and I think we'll see it being offered alot more now companies have been forced to try.
     
    Posted: Apr 11, 2020 By: Bluejen84 Member since: Feb 25, 2020
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  5. AstEver

    AstEver UKBF Regular Free Member

    108 20
    It is not only about cost efficiency as you trade of advantages of close proximity. There is a danger, or an opportunity for some, of ending up with outsourcing all activities rather than building the internal capability.
    You will need to focus on the 'soft' side of management. Building a strong organisational culture may be challenging.

    Wordpress has been successful in remote working. IBM has decided to get everyone back into the offices.
     
    Posted: Apr 11, 2020 By: AstEver Member since: Jan 10, 2019
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  6. Chris Ashdown

    Chris Ashdown UKBF Legend Free Member

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    Its not black and white, work from home or work in the office, just like some people can work alone and turn out the same amount of work regardless of where they work

    A gray alternative is people spend a couple of set days in the office and the rest at home. Instead of there own desks they have shared working area's , with the work from home designated on the last office day so they have the full office day to prepare any information they need to undertake the work load
     
    Posted: Apr 11, 2020 By: Chris Ashdown Member since: Dec 7, 2003
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  7. billybob99

    billybob99 UKBF Regular Free Member

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    This.
     
    Posted: Apr 11, 2020 By: billybob99 Member since: Apr 23, 2013
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  8. Alan

    Alan UKBF Legend Full Member - Verified Business

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    I think the worst scenario is where people work in an office say 4 days a week and one day at home, especially Friday at home. The day at home often becomes an extra weekend day.

    It does take discipline to be effective working from home, you need a routine and segregated space from the rest of the household and to establish household rules, e.g. when the door is closed means you can't come in to the study.

    This discipline is best established by people working close to 100% at home.

    With the right technology there is no reason that instant answers are not possible. For years working in offices we had these modern things called telephones, if someone was on another floor we used this magic devices to talk to them remotely. I think you can actually have these devices in your home too.
     
    Posted: Apr 11, 2020 By: Alan Member since: Aug 16, 2011
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  9. fisicx

    fisicx It's Major Clanger! Staff Member

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    My wife is now working from home along with everyone else in the London office. Productivity has increased as people can now work the hours they want without having to commute. The business is now considering making this permanent and renting a room on the odd occasion they need to be together.

    Lots of others I know have also realised the cost of renting accommodation in London out weighs the benefits. Next year when people are allowed to mingle again I reckon will see a big difference in the way we work. Why commute with millions of others into cite centres when you can do the same job at home.
     
    Posted: Apr 11, 2020 By: fisicx Member since: Sep 12, 2006
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  10. Darren_Ssc

    Darren_Ssc UKBF Ace Free Member

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    Phone calls can be annoyance though, especially if you've told Alexandra that you don't care what hours she works and she is busy having her garden tidied when you want to ask her something trivial.
     
    Posted: Apr 11, 2020 By: Darren_Ssc Member since: Mar 1, 2019
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  11. Alan

    Alan UKBF Legend Full Member - Verified Business

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    Absolutely, depends on the job and operating model.
    If the job is receptionist / call taker / live customer support etc. then you can't tell Alexandra I don't care what hours you work.

    If the job is contract procurement negotiation, then you can just set an objective.
     
    Posted: Apr 11, 2020 By: Alan Member since: Aug 16, 2011
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  12. lesliedocherty

    lesliedocherty UKBF Ace Free Member

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    Which is why Softbank pulled out of buying the rest of 'WeWork', everything has changed for good now.
     
    Posted: Apr 11, 2020 By: lesliedocherty Member since: Jun 17, 2006
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  13. lesliedocherty

    lesliedocherty UKBF Ace Free Member

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    I agree, the friday thing is a piece of nonsense
     
    Posted: Apr 11, 2020 By: lesliedocherty Member since: Jun 17, 2006
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  14. Peter Cooper

    Peter Cooper UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    20 1
    I've actually been considering buying/renting a café or something towards the tail end of this (there are a lot in my small town, and I suspect some will want to retire/get out of the business after this nightmare) and running it as a sort of drop-in office/club for local WFH businesses including ours who want an occasional getaway (make it non-public so it's self service, no baristas, etc.) As I say, though, maybe the lockdown is turning my brain to mush :D
     
    Posted: Apr 11, 2020 By: Peter Cooper Member since: Oct 9, 2015
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  15. Paul Norman

    Paul Norman UKBF Ace Free Member

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    It does seem likely that working from home will become more normal. This virus has sped up that realisation, but it was probably happening anyway.

    It is certainly worth considering whether moving back into each of our offices is the right business thing to do.
     
    Posted: Apr 11, 2020 By: Paul Norman Member since: Apr 8, 2010
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  16. Darren_Ssc

    Darren_Ssc UKBF Ace Free Member

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    Keep your office and buy a coffee machine instead. :)
     
    Posted: Apr 11, 2020 By: Darren_Ssc Member since: Mar 1, 2019
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  17. Mr D

    Mr D UKBF Legend Free Member

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    Agreed.
    People find out you work from home and they think they can pop round or call you when they want.
    Have had to put in place rules - if someone knocks the door and I'm not expecting anyone I'll get to a place I can pause before I go see who it was.
    Often they have left by then. :)

    Have avoided religious groups dozens of times that way. :)

    If mobile rings during work time I'll glance at the number before ignoring or answering it.
    Annoyed my boss once, his phone stopped working so he borrowed his wife's phone that day and half his staff ignored his calls all day. :)
     
    Posted: Apr 11, 2020 By: Mr D Member since: Feb 12, 2017
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  18. Mr D

    Mr D UKBF Legend Free Member

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    Some businesses its a good thing to have staff all together.
    For many others there isn't an actual need for physical location to be together. Technology has moved on - if a call centre can have its staff operating from home to chase debts then why can another call centre not have the same working from home setup for processing claims?
    Staff meetings? Conference calls. One to one meetings? Phone call.
     
    Posted: Apr 11, 2020 By: Mr D Member since: Feb 12, 2017
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  19. tony84

    tony84 UKBF Big Shot Free Member

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    I think you probably should look at keeping one of the offices, will everyone want to work from home? Obviously at the minute it is a requirement to some extent, but in the long run hearing kids in the background might not work.

    I have a 2 year old and she is actually very good but there are times where I answer the phone she picks up my laptop knowing I cant tell her to get off it until I am off the phone - very annoying because she smiles at me whilst doing it.

    I hate working from home. I sometimes go to the local pub for 3-4 hours and get more done in those hours than I do in a full day working from home.
     
    Posted: Apr 11, 2020 By: tony84 Member since: Apr 14, 2008
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  20. lesliedocherty

    lesliedocherty UKBF Ace Free Member

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    I agree, i know a few people (more than 4) who asked to get furloughed as they cannot work effectively from home, some people are not suited to work under their own steam, some don't have the suitable workspace, some have partners, kids, dogs and too many distractions
     
    Posted: Apr 11, 2020 By: lesliedocherty Member since: Jun 17, 2006
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