With the world on lockdown, we’re been cast into a situation where remote working is more of a necessity than a choice for many of us. But has the coronavirus pandemic actually shone a light on the potential of remote working?
Whilst it was always traditionally seen as a fringe benefit or a career path enjoyed only by freelancers, working from home is now becoming mainstream by default and the benefits are obvious. Not only does it cut down on time commuting to and from work but it offers greater flexibility for staff and could potentially lead to a future where the traditional office isn’t even required.
So, once the pandemic has settled, a vaccine for COVID-19 has been found and the world returns to normal, are more people going to be working from home than ever before or is this little more than a brief anomaly?
Life in lockdown
The first question that is often asked when companies are surveying the positives and negatives of remote work is whether or not those people working from home have been happier than those working in the office. Given the circumstances, that question simply doesn’t make sense because the concepts of work-life balance and mental wellbeing have been thrown into the blender in recent months. However, if we’re to really examine how the world is going to look months and years from now then we need to take coronavirus out of the equation.
Work changed forever
In some ways, the pandemic couldn’t have happened at a more opportune time. With the power and flexibility of video conferencing platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, many employees have discovered that it’s surprisingly easy to replicate that workplace environment from home. Of course, not everyone can work from home (this is particularly true of manual workers) but anyone whose job requires little more than the internet and access to a computer could potentially become a full-time remote worker.
A period of adaptation
What will be required is a period where businesses slowly adapt to the idea of allowing employees to work remotely. This can mean starting slowly as trust between employee and employer continues to flourish. Perhaps start by allowing some workers to spend one or two days at home and measure productivity. Only by experimentation will you reach a definitive conclusion because there are so many variables at play.
According to one survey, 37% of employees would happily take a 10% pay cut if they were allowed to work from home and it’s easy to see why: Not only would they save a small fortune in commuter costs but that extra hour in bed and time spent with friends and family could seem priceless to many. So, whether you’re travelling to Rye or travelling to the centre of London on your daily commute, maybe in the near future, you’ll be travelling to your kitchen or your lounge?