Thinking of life before Covid-19 seems like a lifetime ago. It has been one year since the UK went into lockdown and office life has, for most people, ceased to exist. But looking before this pandemic took hold employees were expected to commute to the office 5 days a week, and although this was the normality of the time were people happy to do so?
According to the office of national statistics (ONS) 4.2 Million people carried out at least half of their weekly hour’s work from their home in 2014. More recently in 2019 the ONS also reported an increase to this number the most recent being in February 2020 when the Coronavirus was on people’s radars 17% of the workforce admitted to doing the majority of their employed work at home.
The remaining 83% of the workforce then must have been working either from the office their employer worked from or physically cannot work from home (Construction & hospitality for example). These workers most likely did dream of working from home at least a couple of days a week. It just makes a work-life balance easier especially if the commute is over an hour-long adding an additional 10 hours to the working week.
The Covid-19 work disruption
It’s March 2020 in the UK and the news is a buzz of Coronavirus cases rising. Companies are sending people home and others are reacting to this in their own way. This leads to either offices shutting or doing everything they can to remain open and retain staff working in the office but ultimately it would lead to many closures or at least a sizeable reduction to office environments, bringing an end to normal office life for an unknown amount of time.
At its peak in April 2020, a staggering 43.1% of the working population were working from home. Companies had to adapt to this and although it gave the chance for employees to prove they can work from home there is a multitude of concerns. These concerns ranged from how productivity would be impacted, do the employees have the tools and equipment that they need to work from home, the right policies and technological safeguards in place for home working by implementing sufficient cybersecurity measures to protect data, and the level of IT support that is going to be needed for home working.
A lot of these concerns were negated by companies purchasing hosted desktops for employees to safely access company data and files from their personal laptops and desktops. These solutions alongside using zoom which became the number one source of virtual meeting rooms nicknamed ‘The Zoom Boom’. Zoom became a part of daily life using the platform multiple times in the day not just for meetings and catchup calls with work but to keep in touch with family and friends. Zoom really made working from home much simpler.
The future of home working
To fully understand where we might stand in a covid free world it would be best to break it down into different parameters, job satisfaction, productivity, how the business can be affected, and the environmental impacts of having workers stay at home.
firstly, in a 2013 study by Acas, employees were asked how satisfied they were with their jobs, a high percentage (69%) said they were satisfied. This statistic was for all employee’s home working or office-based. However, when asked about their satisfaction with current working patterns (i.e. At the office or at home) the office-based employees were significantly less satisfied with them stating they would at least like a split between home and office.
Furthermore, a 2020 study by the global health company Cigna Europe showed some interesting results when talking to British workers.
The study found that:
- 9 in 10 British workers have said they actually have become closer to their workmates despite not being in the office.
- 82% state they have had improved working relationships with managers.
- 74% believe they have a better work-life balance.
The study reads that despite the challenges Covid-19 has presented to employees and employers’ life, 78% said they have high job satisfaction which is an increase from January 2021 (70%) due to working from home.
Working from home seems like the dream scenario to some, there is a multitude of benefits in which could improve your focus.
- Fewer distractions – ability to isolate yourself to focus.
- Quieter work environment.
- More comfortable workspace.
- No longer dragged into office politics.
- No office distractions.
More than half (58%) of the people surveyed in TalkTalk’s 2020 study within the UK responded stating that productivity with remote working had been the same but not less productive, and their bosses agreed whereas a further 30% said they had been an actual increase in productivity. This could be linked to a reduction of commuting or even being able to do chores at home during the lunch break rather than having to do it in your own time.
Moreover, working from home does come with some downfalls, especially during the pandemic, these consist of:
- Children not being in school becoming a huge distraction.
- Easier to procrastinate from work.
- Isolation for those who live alone affecting mental health.
- Less face time with supervisors and team members.
- Disproportionate work-life balance.
How have businesses been affected?
Businesses have been affected tremendously by the pandemic. But how does remote working affect a business?
A larger pool of candidates
Firstly, a company that hires remote workers has a much larger pool of candidates to choose from. Usually, a business in Manchester would hire candidates based in and around Manchester, but now they have the freedom to hire anyone in the UK increasing the talent pool to bring on some exceptional employees.
Rent and building costs
There is less of a reason to spend on large office spaces if a sufficient percentage of the employees are working from home. Yes, Having employees in one central area is always great for teamwork when working on a big project or even just the general healthy social aspect, but it gives you the ability to acquire a smaller office and rotate the people working/hot desking in the office. Do they really need to be there all the time and if you’re investing in remote working tools such as hosted desktops, they can share space with other departments who aren’t needed in the office.
As stated above, employees enjoy the flexibility of being able to work from home, it’s much better than not having a choice at all. You can judge for yourself if during lockdown your employee’s productivity has fared and if it has been the same or even better why not allow them to continue?
Of course, when talking about welfare it isn’t straightforward. Each individual person requires different levels of care and what might seem like a positive for one person may be a huge con for someone else. For example, a person who lives with their family or friends might be happy working from home because after work they have someone to help with the social element. furthermore, for someone who lives alone, it could mean being alone for days at a time. This means having that choice to work home gives the employee the ability to choose what is good for them. Some other companies might use a split model where they require an employee to work from the office x number of days in a week.
This one is a no-brainer, fewer people commuting means fewer people on the road. In fact, to inject a little bit of positivity into the pandemic situation human behavioral changes have led to slowed deforestation rates, reduced air pollution, and improved water quality as published by ScienceDaily
Will there be home working post covid?
The short answer is yes. Many employees have now invested time and money in creating a space in which they can work from home. They also have a taste for it which is unlikely to go away. For instance, Big tech companies are paving the way with remote working with the likes of Uber giving office workers $500 to set up at home and continue post covid. Nationwide Insurance will be working from home permanently with an office for those who chose to come in.
Venom reached out to business owner Musa Ayoob, the founder of NQB Recruitment. Musa is in favour of allowing staff members to work remotely stating that it comes with a range of bonuses. The key points Musa has highlighted are:
- Increased productivity – A better focus and a high productivity level from an employee who can sit in their own space without hindrance or distractions.
- Significant increase of talent pool – Musa is an expert in this area as his business is primarily in the recruitment sector. He sees first hand what remote working can do for a company when it comes to hiring the right talent, allowing remote work allows you to expand your team with members from across the country.
- Less commuting – There are environmentally friendly benefits. But also it gives employees back control of their morning. For instance instead of driving to work or catch public transport. They could go for a morning walk and relax before the working day.
- Employee retention – Musa has noticed a large increase in retention of companies that allow employees to work from home.
- Costs of the business – You will need less space due to employees not needed to work in the office all the time reducing the cost of rent and overhead.
Take control of the future
In conclusion, It is up to companies to weigh the pros and cons of allowing workers to continue to work from home after the pandemic has passed. Data shows a positive outcome for both employees and employers if they were to continue.
How have your employees or co-workers fared during the lockdown and has productivity increased? These are just two of the many questions you would need to ask.
Technical aspects of working from home can be daunting, from protecting your data to employees having the right tech. To learn more about how simplistic this transition can be contact us for a free consultation.
Billy Hume | Digital Marketing Executive