Office or remote? What’s best for your business?

Dustin Johnson
By Dustin Johnson

Not long ago, working from home was mostly unheard of. A fully remote company was considered eccentric and a bit over the top for no good reason. Now, it’s the norm. Large organizations recruit top talent by offering flexible work environments, and many online startups and SaaS companies are fully remote.

If you’re starting a business, you have a decision to make. Do I need a physical location for my business, or is it best to stay remote? There’s no answer to this question. However, you can consider a few key things to help you make the best decision.

This blog post will help you do two things:

  1. Consider every factor involved in deciding whether to invest in a physical location.
  2. Discover options you may have yet to hear of that fall between fully remote and in-person.

The two major factors that determine what’s best for you 

There isn’t a definitive answer to whether or not investing in a physical workspace is worth it. This all depends on the size of your organization, your profitability, and the demands on your workforce. 

Let’s discuss a few factors you should consider.

Can you justify the cost?

The first factor you’ll consider is whether a physical office space is within the budget. You can move on to the next question if the answer is yes. Does investing in a physical office make sense? This question is more difficult to answer and will rely on multiple factors (which we’ll discuss later).

When thinking of “justifying” the expense of a physical location, here’s what you should ask yourself:

  • Is NOT having a physical location holding my business back?
  • Is this something we need now, or can we put it off until the future?
  • What is the current real estate market like in my area?
  • How will it impact finances 6+ months down the line?
  • How long will we stick in this office before we outgrow it?
  • What are my competitors doing? And why?

Ideally, the longer you can wait before making a decision, the better. If your business is highly profitable, you can test both strategies with employees before deciding. 

Maybe you’re in a situation where you’re considering moving from a physical location to a remote environment. Or you’re on a tight budget and have to choose between one before starting your business. If either two things are the case, then let’s continue. 

How will it affect employee happiness, productivity, and recruitment?

One study will say working from home is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Then, the next thought piece says working from home will turn your employees into lazy shells who happily watch your company crumble.

What gives?

Like most things in life, the truth lies in the middle and is very subjective. It’s impossible to create a universal study that distills employee happiness into a few variables. Instead, you must work hard and find your employees’ truths.

Start with these basic questions:

Can they fulfill their duties from home?

If their work requires a presence in the office, then going fully remote isn’t an option. If that’s not the case, but you’re still not sure, introducing a hybrid work environment can test if this is possible without fully committing. Trust your employees to give honest feedback and track KPIs. 

Roughly, how long are your employees' commutes?

The average US commute time is 52.2 minutes a day commuting to and from work. Time is money, and if you want to give your employees an extra 4 hours/per week, then let them work from home.

Should we transition all at once, or should we phase into it?

We’ve alluded to this point a few times. If you can transition specific teams or groups of employees into a fully-remote or hybrid environment, you can test it out. Another benefit of transitioning is managing the workplace chemistry.

Can our team coexist in a hybrid environment?

Finishing off the last point, you can permanently damage your team's chemistry if you don’t pay close attention to workplace chemistry. Hindsight is 20/20, so think long and hard. Is it not worth commuting and paying rent to have a cohesive office environment?

Do employees choose to work here because of our office environment?

You have to consider why employees choose to work for your company. A remote environment could hamstring recruitment efforts in the race to recruit the best talent, especially if recruits choose you because of your location, your or another senior employee's presence, or the office environment.

Companies like Google attract top talent because they’re willing to invest billions into building and maintaining their workplaces. Maybe you can do the same on a smaller scale and reap the benefits.

Can you use a coworking space instead?

Coworking spaces are popular among freelancers and fully remote workers. Did you know that your company can also take advantage of these spaces? Coworking spaces give you the same collaborative environment for a fraction of the cost. The added flexibility may suit fast-moving teams that are constantly changing.

There’s a recurring theme in this article. Many options are available if your business is in the middle of the “office-remote spectrum.”

Benefits of an office

Let’s wrap up with a few reasons why you should stay in the office or invest in a physical location. 

  • Professionalism: Even if you don’t meet customers in a physical office, having a location will increase professionalism.
  • Trust: Have you ever visited a company’s website and thought, “Is this even a real company?” If so, you’re not the only one. Having a physical presence will increase your trustworthiness.
  • Marketing: If you run a local business that relies on online search traffic for customers, then a physical location will help your SEO. Like with people, a physical location will increase your reputation with search engines and may lead to improved rankings.
  • Legal: LLCs, partnerships, corporations, and even sole proprietorships are required by state governments to register an address. For most businesses, there’s no law saying this can’t be a home address. However, this may be different for your business for many reasons.

Remote or in the office, ComplYant can help

Making a decision is only the beginning of the hard work for your business. Moving employees into a remote environment or office will cost time and money. Whatever you choose, know that a tool like ComplYant can help you earn back some of that time and money. 

During seasons when you need to make tough decisions, it’s easy to drop the ball on taxes and other deadlines. ComplYant is here to help you focus on your business without costing you more money and stress down the road.

Dustin Johnson
By Dustin Johnson
Dustin Johnson is a Senior Tax Research Specialist at ComplYant. Prior to joining ComplYant, he spent over eleven years performing tax research at the world’s largest tax preparation company. Dustin holds a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Juris Doctor. Outside of work, Dustin enjoys biking and spending time with his family.

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