It’s been almost a year since many not-for-profit organizations sent staffers home — to work remotely. For many nonprofits and employees, remote work has been a positive experience. And as the pandemic fades, you’ll probably need to decide whether employees should remain where they are, return to the office or work a hybrid schedule.
Various surveys have found that working remotely generally lifts employee morale and job satisfaction. After all, working from home cuts expenses related to commuting and work clothing, and the work-life balance is generally more favorable.
Employers benefit, too. Higher employee morale and job satisfaction can help your nonprofit recruit and retain talent. There are also cost factors to consider. Nonprofits with even a portion of their workforce working remotely can save on everything from their leases to utility bills to office supplies. What’s more, remote work may boost employee productivity. One Gallup poll found that remote workers log an average of four more work hours per week than their in-office colleagues.
Reviewing the evidence
During the past year, you’ve likely observed at-home employees’ productivity and work quality yourself. The following questions can help you evaluate the arrangement:
- Are employees logging in more work hours from their homes than they did in the office or producing more work?
- Is the quality of individual employees’ work equal to, better, or inferior to work completed in the office?
- Have you had trouble communicating with staffers — or have staffers encountered difficulties communicating with clients, funders, and other constituents?
- How is staff morale? Are employees excited to get back to the office, or are they enthusiastic about the possibility of permanent remote work?
The work-from-home option may not be appropriate for everyone in your organization — for example, new workers, staffers who have time-management issues, or employees whose duties revolve around face-to-face communications. Keep in mind that if you’re considering allowing some employees to work from home and requiring others to work on-site, you’ll need a written policy.
In the next few months, most employers who sent workers home at the beginning of the pandemic will need to decide whether (and when) to bring them back. Your nonprofit’s unique needs will determine the best plan. We can help you weigh the costs and benefits.