Over the past two years, working from home went from an occasional luxury afforded to people in certain positions to a mainstream practice that helped keep many industries running during the worst periods of the pandemic. Many business leaders initially wrote off remote work as inefficient, a practice that would lead to workers slacking off and getting far less done than they would in the office. Yet many have argued the opposite, with several studies showing that, when properly supported, working remotely from home boosted productivity, with Bloomberg anticipating a 5% gain in productivity in the post-pandemic future.1
Some have argued that people have been more productive during the pandemic than they have been in years,2 with some people happy to be out of the office and allowed more flexibility. In fact, while some employers are eager to bring their employees back to the office on a full-time basis, a growing contingent of workers have stated that they would rather quit their jobs than give up remote work.3
With people reconsidering how and where they work, it begs the question: how important is it for some businesses to even have a physical location? Though we’re unlikely to see many businesses going fully remote any time soon, we are seeing a steady push away from the 9-to-5, 5-days-a-week office mentality. So if you don’t already have an official office space for your business, do you still need one? As with many things, it comes down to a mix of personal preferences and unique business needs.
The Value of the Office Environment
As we have covered in previous CCSK blogs, there are several benefits to having a physical company location,4 from the sense of credibility it presents to potential business partners to the advantage of additional foot traffic. When it comes to the work environment though, having an office space does have its benefits. Even as we get used to doing Zoom calls and other forms of telecommunication, there is no good replacement for having a face-to-face conversation.
There are also the social aspects of the office: unless you have people at home to chat with during breaks, working from home can be isolating, leaving people feeling lonely, which can impact the much-touted productivity gains of remote work. Also, while some people might find an office environment noisy or distracting, for others it’s preferable to their noisy home, especially if they don’t have the money to create a space that suits their working needs. Plus, there are some industries that just function better within a physical workspace, particularly those that require close proximity to business support services or specific technologies.
On top of this, even if you have a lot of remote employees, that doesn’t mean that you won’t have certain location requirements. Along with the obvious factors, like being available to have physical meetings with company leadership or local clients, some state and federal regulations dictate where companies can do business, including which states companies can hire employees in. Also, some jobs require state-issued certifications that dictate where an employee can work.5 As such, businesses in certain areas see fewer benefits from falling back on remote work.
The Undeniable Appeal of Flexibility
For all the advantages of having a physical business location, there are some benefits to going remote that cannot be denied. Even with the limits of certain state and federal regulations, the ability to work from almost anywhere is apparent, especially now with no clear end to the COVID-19 pandemic. For many people, working remotely has proven more efficient than life in an office, as while working from home comes with its own unique distractions, you have a certain amount of control over your own home that you don’t have in an office.
At a business-wide level, the choice between remote and office work most likely comes down to cost and convenience: office space in the U.S. can be expensive, averaging $8-$23 per square foot,6 and depending on where your talent is located and how many people are on your team, these expenses might not be worth it. Though going fully remote might not be viable, having a physical workspace might be excessive if you aren’t getting the most out of it.
Does Location Matter?
There is little denying that there are benefits to having a physical business location, but the past few years have shown us that a business doesn’t need a physical location to be successful. It all comes down to how much value you would get from having the space versus the advantages offered by sticking with remote work options. If you think that you and your people would benefit from an official location, then it is a worthwhile investment. The important thing to remember is that it isn’t a necessity.
1. Curran, E. (2021, April 22). Work from home to Lift productivity by 5% IN Post-Pandemic U.s. Bloomberg.com. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-04-22/yes-working-from-home-makes-you-more-productive-study-finds.
2. Irwin, N. (2021, August 10). Will the pandemic productivity boom last? The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/10/upshot/will-the-pandemic-productivity-boom-last.html.
3. Green, A. (2021, July 26). The people who’d rather quit than give up remote work. Slate Magazine. https://slate.com/human-interest/2021/07/workers-quitting-over-remote-work-going-back-to-office.html.
4. For instance, see our blog post: Location, Location, Location: Does Your Small Business Need a Physical Space? https://ccsklaw.com/location-location-location-does-your-small-business-need-a-physical-space/
5. Courtney, E. (2021, June 16). Why do some Remote Work-From-Home jobs Require Location?: Flexjobs. FlexJobs Job Search Tips and Blog. https://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/why-do-some-remote-jobs-require-a-location/.
6. Offices.net. (2020, December 15). United States commercial property prices 2020: Per square foot. Offices.net. https://offices.net/news/2020-united-states-commercial-real-estate-prices-per-square-foot/.