Coronavirus has seen a dramatic change in our working world from lockdowns to furlough and the sudden uncertainty of whether our businesses would indeed survive. Organising where possible, for our staff to be able to function and work effectively from home.
Now that we are in a new kind of normal, with lockdowns lifted it is highly probable that changes made to working life is here to stay and even more so now that we have a new covid variant. Back in Spring 2021 a national newspaper reported that “nearly all of Britain’s biggest 50 firms are planning a flexible work from home model following the covid lockdown” and that they will allow staff to work from home 2 or 3 days week, where possible.
Our normal working routine was in the office and companies would not have entertained the idea of options to offer flexibility and working from home pre pandemic.
So, what are the benefits?
Is this the future way of working?
Before the pandemic, approximately 5% of the workforce were working at home. With the lockdowns all over the world, the number of people working from home has dramatically increased. However, currently flexibility is very different from the typical way we were working from home during the pandemic with juggling childcare, home schooling, supporting vulnerable relatives and neighbours to working at our dining tables and kitchens.
Flexible working options can help you to have a better work life balance and reduce the costs of travel to and from the workplace. A lot of people have seen the benefits of this option, you can also then balance your personal commitments better such as studying, family, hobbies and interests.
Flexibility encourages regular breaks, time off work and working from home can be a relaxing environment which then in turn have a positive effect on our general wellbeing and stress reduction.
Another thing to consider is recruitment, flexible and remote working allows business owners to attract and retain employees who may not necessarily live in the area or who can’t commit to being in an office environment regularly.
When it comes to flexible working that requires change, this is where uncertainty can arise. It can be unnerving for lots of employers and employees.
One of the biggest concerns is communication which can prove to be a challenge, when talking face to face in the office with the team, it’s then a case of organising meetings on zoom or conference calls to ensure that everyone is on the right track.
This can also in turn lead to individuals, especially Managers feeling that they have a lack of control and/or awareness of the work being carried out, is the work in progress? Are there any Issues? Has the work been done? etc.,
There could be communication breakdowns if it is difficult to get hold of staff which may then impact on the project meetings / calls / deadlines and demands.
We must also remember that working from home isn’t for everyone some employees don’t thrive at home, they much prefer a structured social environment, for some it can be difficult to motivate yourself if you are not in a work environment and become easily distracted.
It can also be difficult to switch off when working at home and it can be tempting to check emails etc., late into the evening.
It can be lonely for some too, many enjoy the social relationship with their colleagues, the banter and impromptu conversations, working from home can also have a negative effect on mental health and general wellbeing.
We must also remember that the working from home option isn’t always right for all businesses, not all small business owners are able to offer a flexible working or working from home option, small businesses tend not to have the funds and finances to be able to afford the technology for employees to be able to work from home.
Is that for a large amount of employees working from home offers flexibility. That flexibility does have pros and cons but it provides a middle ground for working from home / remote working or being back in the office.
It will be interesting to see what happens going forward for businesses in terms of the “new everyday working life”.