Should we get used to working from home?
Since the UK government announced lockdown measures on March 23rd thousands of people were either sent to work from home (WFH) of furloughed until WFH arrangements were put in place. Before COVID-19 around 5% of the UKs workforce were regularly working from home, although many more had worked from home at some point. WFH was slowly becoming more popular and acceptable, with improvements in technology. However, some companies still struggled with the idea of remote work but will this continue post COVID?
Obviously some industries have found the transition to remote work easier than others and for some remote work is impossible. Those with office jobs where the transition to remote work is easier may find themselves WFH more after COVID-19. This may mean that companies can start to rent out smaller offices but still have a large number of employees, saving companies hundred or even thousands of pounds in rent.
Working from home is thought to be better for the environment as fewer people will be travelling to and from work, thus reducing rush hour traffic and carbon emissions. People may also find themselves with more time due to the lack of commute allowing them to consider often more time consuming but environmentally friendly travel for leisure activities. The lack of commute also allows for more time to spend with family and friends, hobbies and/or relaxing. This will likely be beneficial for employees mental health.
However many struggle with working from home. Some find they are less productive, easily distracted or worried their bosses or fellow employees will think they aren't working when they are. Some people also struggle with the lack of human interaction day to day and basic support from their colleagues. Co-workers often help each other out during the day at work but when working from home this may take longer as they may not see your messages straight away especially if they are focusing on their own tasks. Certain things are also easier to explain or do face to face.
Working from home poses problems for employers as well as employees. Hiring new staff often means a trial period and training. Whilst possible remotely, it is likely easier and more beneficial for this to be done in the offices to be able to help them when they need it and ensure they are working well. New staff would also benefit from meeting employees face to face to help them work together and get to know each other. However if it was more common practice to have people working together this way people would probably get used to it and it could become a new norm.
As offices slowly reopen again I believe that working from home will become more acceptable and a bit more common practice where possible. People may work from home most days but still also do work in the office for things which are better done face-to-face. New employees could start by working in the office then later have the option to start working from home occasionally. Office sizes could still be reduced this way if organised well. This could be the best compromise for all involved, allowing for the best of both worlds. It will be interesting to see what companies decide to do in the future and how the work environment will change.