March 06, 2022 by Andrea Rajic

Is Remote Work An Administrative Nightmare?

Is Remote Work An Administrative Nightmare?

It’s 2022. If you’re a People leader, you’re fully aware that remote work is the mainstream now. Yet so many companies are convinced that introducing a hybrid work model brings an administrative catastrophe to their business – especially in the realm of the Workplace.

You’d have to create procedures from scratch, manage people across locations, provide workspace options, and burden your People Operations team. Right?

Well, no.

If done right, your hybrid workplace can jump through the hoops and come out the other side a winner.

We made a list of 7 of the most common workplace challenges of remote and hybrid work, and we’ll let you in on how to solve them.

1. Deciding to go remote

Okay, let’s start with the big one. How do you know where to start when introducing a tectonic shift like distributed work?

For starters, get inspired by what others are doing, but give up on copying their strategy. Instead, focus on deconstructing how other companies solved their challenges and use that reasoning to solve yours.

Example:

Rhino, an insurance company, experienced enormous growth in 2020 and 2021. Their team is split between NYC and the rest of the US. This fact meant New York employees have workspaces at their disposal to get together and collaborate, while employees in other locations don’t.

This is logical, as it would be challenging and costly to have office leases in cities with a handful of employees. But on the other hand, Rhino's leadership realized the employee experience varies significantly between NYC teams and everyone else.

How did they solve this?

By giving employees outside of NYC access to flex spaces in their cities. Employees can now book a space close to their home and have the same working experience at Rhino as their NYC counterparts.

Takeaway:

Consider the issues and challenges facing your company. Approaching the distributed workforce from a fully remote standpoint is different from a company that just started going hybrid.

2. Providing workspaces in multiple locations

If you face a similar challenge to Rhino, you’re probably wondering how providing workspaces in many locations works from the administrative perspective. And it’s a great question.

How to solve this?

You really have two options here.

The first one is to get down to the business of finding and procuring spaces. You may opt for a traditional office lease in a few cities. Or, you can go with coworking options; or even combine coworking and office leases, depending on how many employees you have in each area.

This approach can work for you if your employees are in 2-3 cities across the US. But if they’re located in 20 states and 40 cities, you will have an administrative nightmare on your hands. Think fees, deposits, lease agreements, and all other paperwork wonders you’ll have on your workload.

Ben Levick Kasa quote.jpg

The other option is looking for a partner that can enable you to provide workspaces in different locations all at once . So employees can sign up and choose the nearest workspace without the People team needing to procure every.single.location. That’s just what we do at Gable.

Takeaway:

You can make spaces in multiple locations work for you, both in terms of employee experience and managing the workload. But you will need to broaden your horizons and look for options.

3. Accommodating different use cases

Whether you’re a startup or a Fortune 500 company, each department and employee in your organization likely has different workspace needs.

Example:

Let’s say you’re a 100-people company. Your executives might need a conference room twice a week. Your sales team needs a dedicated office. Your developers are asking for flex desks in shared spaces, with access to phone booths for calls.

The challenge is accommodating all these needs while reducing administration and procedures to an absolute minimum.

How to solve this?

When you’re procuring workspaces, have a clear understanding of your employees’ needs. Then implement that understanding when you provide workspace options. For example, employees who use Gable can access different workspace setups on a one-off, recurring, or dedicated basis, depending on what they need and what their company approved.

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Takeaway:

Providing the same workspace setup to all your teams isn’t going to cut it. Instead, consider their daily tasks and responsibilities and offer common spaces, meeting rooms, dedicated offices, and collaborative areas accordingly.

4. Scalability and cost predictability

If you’re a high growth company, the growing headcount is terrific for your business. You’re expanding, gaining new customers, and growing your product. The People teams, however, can find themselves struggling with both hiring and benefits.

In the wake of The Great Resignation, employees are switching jobs and looking for better opportunities. To attract new talent, best-in-class compensation won't be enough. You'll need to offer great benefits as well. And to top it off, you need to provide those benefits to new hires on day one. But how can you predict the costs of such a strategy and scale it as you grow?

The Great Resignation

Example:

Let’s go back to Rhino for a moment. Their hiring strategy is remote. So when they have a new hire living in Austin, it’s essential to offer them the same workspace options they provide to existing employees. No waiting, no lag time. The longer you wait to deliver on your benefits promise, the worse employee experience the new hire will have.

How to solve this?

Since you can’t predict where your remote employees will be when you open a new vacancy, you can’t plan your footprint. But you can predict the costs of remote workspaces and design a scalable workplace strategy.

Once again, it comes down to choosing a good partner for your People team. Rhino chose Gable because they can predict future expenditure based on how current employees use Gable. A bonus tip: When they have a new hire onboarding, Gable can provide a workspace close to them in a matter of days.

Takeaway:

Scaling your hybrid workplace can’t lag behind your headcount growth. It needs to follow it fast. Choose a partner who enables you to predict expenses and usage and add new locations as you grow.

5. Engaging employees & conveying company culture

You’re probably wondering how company culture and employee engagement can be an administrative challenge. According to Ben Levick, the VP of Operations at Kasa, they sure can:

Company culture impact

We spoke about The Great Resignation above, and it’s only the beginning of a tremendously important story. In the current business climate, employees are at an advantage. They choose employers who nurture wellbeing, engage employees, and exude a culture workers can stand behind. Companies are listening ever so carefully and realizing the importance of transmitting company culture.

employees culture fit

Example:

Kasa, a real estate tech company, has had a fully remote team since 2016. Their employees live in 40 different US states. The forced work-from-home regime in the past two years affected collaboration as a cornerstone of their company culture.

How did they solve this?

Kasa’s leadership team realized the need to facilitate collaboration and connection. So they decided to offer flex workspaces and<span style="text-decoration:underline;"> </span>organize meetings and offsites using Gable. The flexibility to work in person reopened opportunities for serendipity. It enabled employees to mix, mingle and share ideas. For Kasa, the hybrid workplace isn’t about saving money but conveying culture and making employees happy and engaged.

Takeaway:

The workplace is no longer a physical place where work happens at a desk. Instead, it’s a tool to boost morale, improve productivity and engagement, and reduce employee turnover.

6: Insufficient visibility

Unlike the traditional 9-5 office model, the new, dynamic workplace has a trait that benefits the People teams: its success can be measured. In an office, nobody really measured whether the 9-5 worked, let alone if employees could be productive in an open-plan space.

Claire Babbage quote.jpg

With the shift in how we view the workplace, People teams can (and should) measure how their Workplace is doing. This is a new challenge for most People professionals, as they still don’t have enough visibility to track the impact of the workplace.

Example:

If your employees are distributed, even in just a handful of cities, you will want to know some essential metrics:

  • How often do they go into workspaces?
  • Do they go to the office to get focused work done or meet teammates and work together?
  • What kind of spaces do they prefer?
  • How engaged are they?
  • Which departments and employees use workspaces the most?

How to solve this?

Again - two options here. You can either use these questions to create surveys and questionnaires or automate these insights with a third-party platform.

If you decide to do all the work yourself, you will need to keep track of every time an employee checks into the office and capture their feedback. As your company grows, it gets harder to track and burdensome for your team - and that’s just what we want to avoid here.

Regardless of your method, you’ll start getting data, insights, and trends about how and why your employees go to the office and how the workplace impacts their satisfaction, performance, and engagement.

Takeaway:

With the hybrid workplace, you can stop guessing and know for sure the impact of the workplace on your teams. Taking the pulse of your workforce can, in turn, guide you to adjust your offering, expand it, and double down on what works.

7. Optimizing the workflow

All of the issues above lead to one final challenge: how can People teams streamline their workplace without burdening their workflow and spending too much?

Example:

You’ve read all the challenges described above and feel confident you can solve them. However, you’re wondering about the amount of time it would take to set up a system like Gable, the complexity of setting budget limits, and onboarding all your employees. And how would you handle the payments?

How to solve this?

We stand by our claim that distributed work doesn’t have to make your head explode. And that starts with an efficient, untangled, and hassle-free system for People Operations and HR teams.

That’s why at Gable, company admins can do all of the procedures listed above in a few clicks.

Want to set up a company account? That takes around 5 minutes. Want to invite all employees to join? Connect your HRIS provider and import your department and employee list in under 3 minutes. Then, set budget limits by department or employee with your HRIS data. Finally, input your company credit card in a minute and eliminate the hundreds of expense reports and reimbursement requests.

Takeaway

Keep the rollout of your hybrid workplace strategy front and centre. Consider how to best handle employee onboarding, the logistics of setting up budgets and privileges, and whether you want to reimburse employees for workspace usage or have a centralized management suite.

Distributed work is what you make of it.

Remote work is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s essential. If you play your cards right, you can turn it from a nightmare to a homerun.

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Andrea
Written By

Andrea Rajic



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