When Covid-19 swept across the world, millions found themselves ordered to stay at home by their Governments to help reduce the spread and this, by default, led to swift worldwide adaption. Businesses needed to adapt accordingly, finding workable solutions to, wherever possible, remain operational and profitable and safely keeping their employees earning a salary and contributing to the economy. Many employees have found themselves expected to work from home, as normal, with the potential additional challenges of home schooling, additional users of the internet during office hours and less personal space.
As of April 2020, statistics released by the UK’s Office of National Statistics showed that almost 50% of the UK workforce is currently working from home, due to social distancing measures introduced to manage the pandemic.
This sudden and, in some cases, non-negotiable change has brought challenges for many, particularly those balancing multiple responsibilities in the home. However, once the Covid-19 crisis has passed, and we find our way back to normal, or a ‘new normal’ as is so often stated, the many challenges of balancing work, caring for others, homeschooling and maintaining a healthy environment at home will lessen as businesses reopen, protective measures ease and children return to school. At this point, the current challenges of working from home may well turn into advantages for many employers and employees alike.
What elements of remote working thrust upon us could actually be useful to us going forward?
In this month’s blog, we are sharing 8 benefits to maintaining a remote-working scheme, far beyond the pandemic.
Statistics from the ONS, over several years, found that employees who work from home are more productive than their office-based colleagues. This isn’t a rule across the board, but if you have employees who are self-driven and self-motivated, a work-from-home arrangement could work in the favour of both the employee and the employer.
Remote Working Tools
Thanks to the evolution of the Internet, we can now be connected to our offices at any time of the day, or indeed night! With WiFi available almost everywhere, video conferencing tools such as Skype, Zoom and Google Teams, and team collaboration tools such as Trello and Asana, working effectively from home has become infinitely easier.
Less Time Spent Commuting
Reducing the need to commute saves time, expense on petrol and public transport, and, depending on the distance and route, frustration, leading to a boost in morale. Many companies are already getting comfortable with using video conferencing software and apps that they may previously have been reluctant to try, reducing the need for, and costs involved with business travel and hosting large meetings at venues. An added bonus being the overall reduction in our carbon footprint; supporting your business to achieve its environmental goals and moral obligations to society.
Less Need for Office Space
With employees working from home, companies can afford to have less office space. Not all companies will feel comfortable with not having ‘bricks and mortar’ premises, so one method for reducing the need for office space, without dispensing with it altogether, is to stagger employees’ work-from-home days, allowing for a smaller office space to be perfectly adequate (albeit this may be a long term goal once the virus is understood and guidance on hotdesking and shared ‘tools’ is reviewed again). The money saved on owning or renting smaller office space could be allocated towards business travel (when absolutely necessary), enhanced work systems or even morale boosting events for employees that ensure everyone stays connected.
Less Need for Provisions
What’s the first thing you do when work becomes complicated, challenging or arduous? You get up to get a snack, right? Or is that just us? No, we’re pretty sure it isn’t just us… at least we hope it isn’t! Most companies will provide, at the very least, tea, coffee, milk and water for employees, with some providing vending machines, canteens and other catered and serviced snack facilities. By allowing employees to work from home, the need for providing in-house snacks is greatly reduced. As an illustration, Tech multinational IBM reported that it has saved $100 million in office snacks annually since launching its remote-working scheme for employees!
Reduction in Time-Consuming Meetings
As previously mentioned, working remotely using the many online tools available, and holding discussions over video conferencing systems, will reduce the need for many time-consuming, or even time-wasting meetings for which the office environment is so notorious. Much more consideration will be given in advance to the usefulness, timing and content of video calls, as opposed to simply calling employees into the nearest meeting room with no solid or pre-planned agenda.
Freedom of Recruitment
Being untethered from a traditional office gives companies the freedom to recruit the very best talent, wherever they are in the country, or even the world. An employer is no longer limited to recruiting only individuals who live within their local vicinity or advertising roles to applicants ‘willing to travel’. The world, as they say, is your oyster.
Ways of achieving work-life balance have long been a discussion in the workplace, and the life-changing effects of the pandemic will go a long way towards increasing that. Employees who can look forward to the possibility of achieving a better work-life balance, via various home working schemes, will be happier employees, and in turn, more productive when it comes to work.
The Covid-19 pandemic has pushed many of us into working environments and working arrangements that we would never have considered before. However, given so many weeks to test them out and in many cases, rely on them, we may find that there are, and always have been, many advantages to adopting remote-working practices. There will come a day when life goes back to ‘normal’, but we can be certain that working practices, and attitudes towards working from home, will never be the same again.
Whilst this period of uncertainty and change continues, we hope you are remaining safe and well, wherever your working environment currently is.