As the holiday season wears off, there’s one issue that is front and center for a lot of managers and business owners.
Employers want people back in the office. Employees don’t wanna go back.
Employees have a lot of solid reasons to not want to return. Transmissible diseases, physical and fiscal costs of commuting, inflation cranking up, and the realization of a dysfunctional work-life balance are the easiest ones to think of, but there are hundreds more.
Most of the push to return to the office comes from two places: managers who can’t manage remotely, and the cost of having huge office spaces that aren’t being used. Let’s table the first reason because that’s a whole article in and of itself.
The second reason might be a opportunity in disguise.
The opportunity is to work with the property managers, instead of against them. Together, you could retrofit the office into something that fits into a post-Covid environment.
Here’s how it could work:
First, review your current lease to see if there are any provisions for remodeling. If there aren’t any, then see if you can renegotiate that provision with the property management company. I'm sure they’d rather have a tenant than a broken lease.
Second, instead of thinking about this as a capex problem, consider the offsets. Capital improvement, LEED, and WELL credits should be part of the negotiation with the property managers. You can improve your current office space for yourselves, and the property managers have an office that would be desirable for the next tenant.
These improvements would also cause tangible gains for the office environment. After all, better lighting, improved ventilation, and better temperature control have all been proven to improve productivity.
And the intangible gains?
You’ve proven to your employees that their health is important. You have found a way to adapt to the New Normal. You have a better relationship with the property manager which will come in handy during the next round of lease renewals.
And yes, you could just assume that things will go back the way they were before Covid. You could grit your teeth and get through the next few months, fighting your employees to get that back into the office, having wave after wave of infection send your staff back home. You could watch while your staff leaves for a more flexible workplace, taking their experience with them. Those are absolutely options you could take.
Or you could try making your office a better place to work and turn the problem into an opportunity.