Will we ever go back to working the way we used to? This week, BBC News surveyed 50 of the UK’s biggest employers and they consistently answered that they have no plans to bring staff back to the office full-time.
I guess some key questions arise from this new reality — particularly whether this blended way of working will become widespread in the longer-term, and if so, how workforces plan to remain motivated.
Many firms I have spoken with have said their HR teams are already busy organising long-term plans where employees work from home two to three days a week — and this is across both the public and private sectors.
Other companies are going even further and looking to create “smart” and “flexible” teams. This would offer workers the option to make their own choices about how often they come into the office, if at all.
It has been suggested that hybrid working boosts productivity, and in many cases, by reducing the hassle of commuting, it’s given people the freedom to work from any location and in any attire.
Not only does remote working appear to be healthy for staff, but there are enormous benefits for business too. Not limited by geography, employers are able to attract a wider and more diverse candidate pool when hiring.
However, as alluring as this may be, staying focused, consistent, and disciplined is a whole different game. One that can go considerably wrong if not kept in check, resulting in project delays and low-quality work.
Let’s just say that it’s perhaps not for everybody!
Some employers are suggesting that they would require 20% less square-footage if staff work from home twice a week, but we should be mindful of the sizeable proportion of people who appreciate being in an office. Particularly those who live alone or do not have a suitable place to work.
And for the millions of people that will choose to stay home for part of the working week — having a great ethic, routine, and direction are absolutely necessary in order to stay productive, active and focused.
Remote workers should have a space where they are able to go every day to complete tasks without distraction. Defining when and where we start and finish work can really help us from getting lost in a chaotic routine.
This will also likely involve staff sending a clear message to family and employers as to the times they will not be reach-able, unless of course there’s an emergency.
Finally, let’s remember to keep building relationships both professionally and personally in much the same way that we would in an office. We mustn’t allow ourselves to become too isolated, and should seek opportunities to meet with colleagues whenever possible.
It is clear then, that the way in which companies will work with their employees has undergone a fundamental shift. Many of the changes incorporated over the past year will last beyond the pandemic.
As an indicator of this change in working patterns, when asked how the virus has affected their HR and hiring initiatives, the vast majority of hiring professionals point to the transition to remote working.
No matter what policy companies choose to deploy, it’s clear that we won’t be returning to the status quo any time soon.