Ask these questions before closing an office location

As Salesforce looks to buy Slack, it ‘bets big’ on the future of remote working. And so does Zupa.

How we got here

Whilst our office remained open with restrictions, understandably it saw little attendance. Before COVID, employees could work from home one day a week, and running a WFH experiment seemed unimaginable! However, irreputable facts showed that remote working is popular and for Zupa, highly effective. All departments maintained an excellent level of productivity.

Faced with changeable rules and a rolling programme of national and local lockdowns, all that remained was to ask employees one very important question.

Should we retain the office?

Our simple democratic process provided the answer: 90% No.

How will our business cope without ‘kitchen conversations’ and those small snatched moments of sense-checking ideas? Our consensus is it’s now easier to generate those conversations when you’re not waiting for a meeting room or stuck in traffic. Microsoft Teams gives replies space to breathe, without the formality of emails.

More importantly, we will ask the question again in around 6 months. We will have grown our numbers and our cohort may provide a different answer. Zupa is open to crossing that bridge when the time comes.

Tips for moving a business to WFH

We’ve written before about planning an office move. Here is a watch list of tasks and questions to consider when you’ve decided to make the shift.

  • Where will paper duplicates of contracts live and printing be handled
  • Where will marketing premiums and conference materials live
  • How will IP address access restrictions be handled
  • How will new and spare hardware be stored and easily accessed
  • How do you manage employee data in line with GDPR
  • Where does community property, such as whiteboards and kitchenware go

TIP: Not only must you update Companies House, tax and billing addresses, but also your registrations for:

  • Suppliers
  • Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)
  • ISO and QMS documentation
  • Business Continuity plans
  • IT Infrastructure and failover
  • Email signatures and websites

TIP: Also leave enough time for arranging for serviced/loaned items to be collected, such as water coolers and printers.

What is your electrical recycling policy?

TIP: Long-term storage can be expensive! If you cannot sell furniture back to your supplier, talk to your landlord about an exchange for your security deposit.

Responsibility in a WFH structure

Whilst Zupa has moved to an (albeit temporary) ‘work from anywhere’ structure, there remains the legalities and welfare compliance in employing staff in Great Britain.

A crowded dining table may have been ‘passable’ in lockdown 1, but now is the chance for employees to take work-appropriate furniture home, including separate keyboards and dual monitor stands to match eye level and legibility standards.

In short, nothing about the responsibilities of workforce wellness has changed. The same workstation and DSE (display screen equipment) assessments apply. Learn more on the Health and Safety Executive website.

Screens await collection

TIP: Team leaders have dropped additional Microsoft Teams meetings into calendars – separate from the scrum structure – to ensure mental health gains as equal discussion as physical health.

TIP: Without the structure of a commute, it’s easy for some employees to continue working past their contractual hours. This can promote burnout. Workers suffer, and it begins to show in results. Ask employees to place lunch breaks (and OOO blocks at the end of the day) into their calendars.

TIP: Post- COVID, consider extending your Employee Assistance Programme to offer financial training, 24hr video doctors and specialisms above Counselling.

Be clear on your WFH plans for future hires

Honesty is the best policy. With a view to returning to a branded hub style location in the near future, we had to find a statement that balanced this clearly. It’s also true that we’ll wish to gather the entire company at a hospitality location when we’re allowed!

“Roles are primarily Work from home. Occasionally, you will be asked to attend Company events in the Southampton area. You must have the ability to travel.”

TIP: With permission, help your search traffic and candidate expectations by declaring your former location as a ‘home base’. This is the primary reason that we have maintained our Bing Places and Google My Business street locations.

The material located in this blog and on our site is for review and informational purposes only, is general in nature, and is not intended to and should not be relied upon or construed as a legal opinion or legal advice regarding any specific issue or factual circumstance. Please seek your own advice.

Now read How to onboard employees remotely

Have you moved to a WFH operation? Tell us on twitter. To register your CV for Zupa job alerts in the software industry click here.