Return to the office or not? What are the financial considerations?

Last week BBC news published an article entitled ‘No full-time return to the office for over a million’ that explored some research with 50 of the UK’s biggest employers. Almost all said they do not plan to bring staff back to the office full-time. 43 of the firms said they would embrace a mix of home and office working and encouraging work from home some of the time.

We put this news to our ‘finance peer group’ for their comments from a financial perspective. Here were their thoughts:

Carl Tomlinson of Brasenose Business Services and VFDnet said “As we emerge from lockdown employers and employees will have differing views about the return to the office. In determining the best approach, businesses will need to mindful of productivity – how to maintain it and how to measure it. FDs will want to consider wider use of software which automates transaction processing (eg Dext). Regular, structured contact with remote workers is going to be key to ensuring that accurate numbers arrive on time each month.”

Ian Roberts of Cashflow Creators commented “It’s true that the business world needs to evolve with more flexible and more compassionate ways of working. No only is the younger business person embracing technology but also brings the benefits that free the business owners and their business from the costs.

“Wasted travel costs, fuel and office accommodation costs are a key way to not only reduce costs but to meet the carbon foot print measures that all businesses need to manage, there is a colossal amount of wasted energy that’s killing the environment and the future of our planet. The financial cost savings that arise from a smarter working arrangement are huge and need to be embraced.

“The health benefits are also significant with more time with family and the personal travel costs cut enabling employees and business owners to have more pay rather than wasting it on train and public transport, let alone the rising fuel and vehicle costs.”

Mike Foster, The Entrepreneurs Mentor and an OBCN Director, said “In my conversations with business owners, it echoes the headline of this article in that there is likely to be a hybrid approach with not every employee returning to the office. Yes, some will bring the team back to the office, but some will return part of the week, whilst others may remain remote with the exception of team meetings. If businesses were not tied to leases, then we may see even more change immediately, as the pandemic has accelerated the future of work. I agree with Carl’s comment above about the management of productivity, as businesses will need to be considering this and other hidden costs of managing a workforce team that are in part remote. The communication style will need to change and at times mean individual calls compared to the previous team or group gatherings in the office. Although businesses have embraced Zoom, Teams etc, this is likely to mean more of the managers time being absorbed compared to the past. Additionally, how do you keep a remote team supplied in a timely manner with stationery or supplied with business critical information. This may mean a different logistic consideration for deliveries or meaning multiple orders by the business compared to one delivered centrally to the office. Technology and software can play its part but again in some cases this is likely to be a new cost to the business. There will also be the costs associated with managing the risks to the business? For example, health & safety or HR considerations”

As part of the OBCN trusted community it is great to have these trusted experts in our membership, supporting other members with their ‘finance’ decisions.

If you would like to find out more about OBCN or wish to speak to any of our expert members, then please do not hesitate to contact us.

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