Are Grand Rapids Companies Shifting To a Permanent ‘Work from Home” Model?
As of August 28, more than 100,000 Michigan residents have tested positive for COVID-19; close to 6,500 of these individuals have died. As the novel coronavirus continues its rampage across the nation, it’s no wonder that companies are shifting to allow employees to continue to work from home indefinitely. The move comes naturally to tech giants such as Twitter and Shopify but they are hardly the only companies to consider such a drastic move. Ford and GM in Michigan have both delayed bringing back office workers, a move that impacts about 70,000 Michigan employees. Will Grand Rapids companies be following in their footsteps and allowing employees to work from the comfort of their own homes as much as possible, or is the trend a temporary one that will soon end with the mass return of former remote workers to their old office spaces?
There are no clear local statistics indicating how many companies are allowing employees to continue to work remotely in the Grand Rapids area. There is also no clear indication that companies will either stick to a remote work atmosphere or call workers back to the office once the COVID-19 pandemic ends. However, there are two clear indications that Grand Rapids companies will go with a permanent “work from home” model unless circumstances drastically change. One indication is that Michigan is one of the top five states with the lowest cost of internet services. Another indication is that the Michigan legislature is currently debating several bills that would lay down clear guidelines outlining when and how businesses can be sued if an employee catches COVID-19. At present, the bills are fairly business-friendly, making it clear that a lawsuit cannot be filed if a business adheres to state lockdown rules and takes proper measures to keep staff members safe. However, the language is still vague and it would be all too easy for a business to be faced with legal action if someone happened to catch the novel coronavirus and require medical help to overcome it. The easiest way for a business to avoid being targeted by a lawsuit would be to allow anyone who can work from home to do so.
Is a Permanent “Work from Home” Model a Good Idea for Grand Rapids Companies?
There are advantages and disadvantages to a permanent work from home set-up. Furthermore, a work set-up that is ideal for one company may not work well for another business in a different industry. Read on to get to know some of the pros and cons of allowing staff members to work from home to see which arrangement would be the best fit for your business.
The Advantages of Working from Home
Employees who work from home are often more productive than those who work at a regular office. The ability to balance out life-work responsibilities and skip long commutes helps employees stay happy and inspired about their work.
Lower Overhead Costs
Allowing all or most of your employees to work from home is a great way to lower operating costs. You won’t have to lease a large office for all your employees. You won’t have to buy a lot of office furniture or hire a team of janitors to keep your office space clean and tidy.
Expanded Employee Options
Companies that are willing to hire remote workers will find an abundance of potential workers to pick from, including employees and contractors with specialized skill sets. Expanding your horizons as you switch to a permanent work from home model will help you find the best employees for your business as you no longer have to limit your selection to those who live in your immediate area.
The Disadvantages of a Work from Home Model
A remote work set-up does have its drawbacks and issues. These can be resolved but you should be aware of them to prevent serious problems.
Even employees who work in the same office experience communication problems. These problems are amplified if you switch to a remote work set-up as workers can’t just pop into a colleague’s office to ask a question or get needed input. Before creating a permanent work from home set-up, you’ll want to provide your employees with the communication tools they need to work together, share ideas and input, and stay in touch with each other. Microsoft Office 365 offers some great apps for this purpose, including Planner and Teams.
Cyberattacks are on the rise this year as cybercriminals take advantage of COVID-19 and the upheaval surrounding state lockdowns to do as much damage as possible. The initial switch to a work from home model left many companies vulnerable to data breaches for several reasons:
- Employees used personal devices to access the network, and the devices had not been vetted by a company IT professional to ensure they did not contain malware and/or outdated software programs with known vulnerabilities
- Companies did not have a VPN to ensure data was encrypted as it moved to and from the company server
- Employees were unaware of cybersecurity risks and so engaged in risky behavior such as sharing passwords via unsecured channels
- Web and email filtering programs in place at the company did not extend to employee homes. This gave hackers an opening to send employees phishing emails and malicious pop-ups. Many of these attacks were COVID-19-related, making it all too easy for unsuspecting employees to click on what looked like a legitimate notification or news site.
If your business does move to a work from home model, you’ll want to invest in strong cybersecurity and training for all staff members to keep your systems safe from breaches.
Would you like to set up a successful, productive work from home business model that will help you save money, boost productivity and employee morale, and keep data safe from prying eyes? Tca Synertech is a leading managed services provider that offers all the tools, technologies, and expertise you need to keep your business moving forward now and in the future. Get in touch with us to learn more or to schedule an appointment with our team of IT experts.