When we finally emerge from the delirious slumber of COVID-19, employers will be forced to assess the working landscape.
When we finally emerge from the delirious slumber of COVID-19, employers will be forced to assess the working landscape and may discover that their staff are sceptical about returning to the office once ‘normality’ resumes.
Companies have been forced to embrace remote working, where possible, in order to keep their operations running efficiently and even more importantly - protect the welfare of their workforce. The initial adjustment to remote working presented its fair share of challenges and dilemmas, particularly in regards to effective communication streams and sustaining employee motivation.
However, as time has elapsed, many organisations have found the transition to be successful, with many of today’s workers demonstrating that they are capable of adapting to new arrangements, whilst processes still function with surgical precision.
For those thriving in their own personal space and not becoming restless from the social hub and banterful nature of office life, it raises the question - will companies consider offering their employees the opportunity to work remotely on a regular basis?
The coronavirus outbreak could prove to be the tipping point and spark a working from home movement. In these unprecedented times, extending a remote working culture beyond this pandemic could prove to be extremely resourceful.
Matt Mullenweg, chief executive of Wordpress and Tumblr owner Automatic believes there will never be a better time for companies to take the plunge. He says that
"This might be our best chance for a great reset in terms of how we work and offers companies the chance to finally implement an ethos that allows long-overdue work flexibility.”
Naturally, there will be an edge of trepidation to begin with, but what are the benefits to companies and the wider world if they let staff work from home permanently?
Just Imagine. Daily commutes are now a congestion-free amble across the hallway, and snack drawers are an entire pantry. Nothing is worse than getting up even earlier than usual on a bitter cold and dark winter morning to scrape ice off the car or stand freezing on a station platform praying for the train to chuff a little faster. Throw in the savings on fuel, public transport fares and the time it takes an individual to travel to and from work, and suddenly the concept of working from home becomes very attractive.
In return, businesses are rewarded with a member of staff brimming with renewed vigour, no longer frazzled or fatigued from sitting in traffic. Tired workers are less productive and this is backed up in a recent study from Airtasker which revealed that work-at-home employees work 1.4 more days a month than their office-based counterparts, resulting in 16.8 more days of productivity each year.
Offering remote working opportunities opens organisations up to an ocean of diverse global talent that may have previously been overlooked. Gender and ableist based barriers to job roles would break down, as flexible working is commonly cited as an important measure in gaining workplace equality - and a more diverse workforce is a more innovative workforce. Positions in all areas could be carried out remotely, from copywriting to admin and accounting.
Allowing staff to work from home instantly slashes costs on equipment such as desks and computers, as well the requirement for floor space which further saves on utility bills, rent, etc.
Alternatively, companies may be able to downsize to smaller premises or if necessary use the vacant property footprint to store physical stock or assets.
Giving employees the flexibility to take their car to the garage or watch their child in a school play makes for more loyal staff. Flexibility fosters an inclusive and diverse workforce across all age ranges, and those that move away would have no excuse to leave. These factors will help keep trained staff in their job for longer.
Dreaming of a world with unpolluted skies, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and people less inclined to purchase throwaway cups on their breaks?
Companies face increasing pressure to become more eco-friendly and “go green”, so giving staff consent to work from home is a simple solution to lower their carbon footprint as well as enhance their environmental credentials.
Now employers realise how the advancements of modern technology enables colleagues to communicate and collaborate seamlessly, it seems inevitable that many will adopt a working from home philosophy once the dust has settled.
2020 will unquestionably be remembered for the frightening, deadly viral disease that turned our planet upside down, but humanity may also look back at it as a catalyst for the home working revolution.