Home, Office, or Hybrid? Fresno Companies Wrestle With Decision
In the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, offices around the country quickly shut down, ushering in a work-from-home revolution.
But now that more than half of the U.S. population is vaccinated, Fresno-based companies are contemplating whether to bring employees back to the office, let them continue working remotely, or implement hybrid schedules.
Their decisions are complicated by the new rise in COVID cases.
Who Benefited from a Work from Home Order?
BCT Consulting, a technology-based company in Fresno, quickly transitioned to remote work at the outset of the pandemic. Eric Rawn, owner of BCT said that nearly 100% of his employees worked from home in 2020. In addition, the company helped other organizations and businesses across Fresno move to remote work.
“We didn’t have to scramble to set up remote access and everything else that other organizations did,” said Rawn. “However, we’ve got thousands of clients throughout the area that rely on us for their technology support and so we got very busy in 2020 basically setting up our clients to work remotely.”
Among those BCT helped: the Fresno Chaffee Zoo, People’s Church, Fresno Rescue Mission, and De Young Properties.
How Many Employees Still Work from Home?
A survey from the Pew Research Center shows that nearing the end of 2020, only one-in-five employees said they worked from home all or most of the time. But, 71% of those working from home said that if they had the choice, they would keep working from home after the pandemic.
BCT employees started easing back into the office last summer after they were given the option to work from home or come into the office. Rawn foresees a downfall for companies that order employees back to the office right away in light of the societal shift the pandemic has brought to the workforce.
“If you’re going to bring employees back, you need to be able to do it in a way that benefits them,” said Rawn. “Otherwise, what you’re going to find and what we’re starting to see already is employees are quitting and they’re either not working or they’re finding jobs that do allow them to be flexible and work remotely.”
Fresno Companies Adopt Hybrid Schedules
Alex Looper of Loops Marketing in Clovis says his firm went to a hybrid schedule after discussing the options with employees.
“For the most part, it seems like our employees are more productive when they have more freedom and a little bit more of like a work-life balance,” said Looper.
“So, a lot of them just love the fact that they come into the office a few days a week and then have the flexibility to work from home.”
So, What’s Makes Employers Hesitant to Keep Employees Home?
Many companies that BCT works with are bringing employees back because they think efficiency has dropped. However, Rawn says companies have the ability to learn if production goes up or down when employees work from home.
“We’ve been deploying software to specific companies that request it that allow those companies to monitor the efficiency of the employees,” said Rawn. “That helps to show, you know, how long the employees are taking breaks for, how long they’re away from their desk, how long they’re on the phone, and we’re able to help companies make better decisions about what’s best for their companies.”
COVID-19 Shifts Small Businesses to Digital Presence
This cultural and digital transformation is not only being adopted by companies that can work from home, it’s also affecting small businesses. Employees working remotely during the pandemic often buy online instead of hitting the stores.
With less foot traffic, small mom and pop shops have struggled to stay open during the pandemic. They have had to think of creative ways to stay afloat and are turning to companies like Loops Marketing. The goal: help influence online sales whether it’s through a new website, social media, online advertising, or Google Ads.
Google Ad revenue increased markedly after the pandemic hit and continues to rise. According to Statista, in the first quarter of 2021, Google’s revenue reached 55.3 billion U.S. dollars. For 2020, the company generated $147 billion in ad revenue.
Google’s record-breaking sales don’t surprise Looper, who says more people are looking to do things online after being pushed there by the pandemic.
“We’ve seen an influx of businesses that want help with their online presence and I think moving into the future, we’re going to see a shift in the way business is done because we’ve already seen that with our company,” he said.
“People are always online and if you’re not on social media with your business, you’re losing out on so many people knowing about what you do, what you offer. … (Without) a digital presence, you have to basically rely on referrals and people coming into your business and with COVID that isn’t happening as much.”