In just a few short (or long for many) months Covid-19 has changed the world immeasurably. Almost no part of society has been spared from the pandemic’s reach, with businesses being no exception.
Stock markets have plummeted. The global economy has taken a dive. And most of the UK population has been either furloughed or is working from home. As the government looks to take steps towards a more healthy and stable future, some things look to remain; working from home being one of them.
It’s no secret that some of the world’s biggest employers are setting the president for a new normal when it comes to the working day. Many of them, including Google, are not expecting staff to return until next year. In fact, twitter tells staff they can work from home ‘forever’, if they would like to.
Twitter said: “The past few months have proven we can make that work. So if our employees are in a role and situation that enables them to work from home and they want to continue to do so forever, we will make that happen.”
This is a huge move towards a very different future when it comes to our working day. Now, many businesses are following suit. According to a Whereby poll, just over 50 per cent said that remote working as a result of the coronavirus has increased overall productivity. While 82 per cent said they are considering changing future working practices. So that employees to continue working from home once restrictions are lifted.
Especially interesting, is that 53 per cent said their mental wellbeing has improved since working from home.
In effect, it would seem that the unprecedented turn of events which enforced an overnight abandonment of traditional working practices, are going to result in a big change in professional behaviour and expectations. Furthermore, it turns out that many people are ready to embrace the change.
Time for a new normal?
Since the pandemic, companies and employees are being forced to reevaluate all that they knew about the way we work. What’s more, the above research highlights that people are ready to assume the new normal and that businesses are taking lessons from the current situation. And even more than that, are taking action towards more flexible working conditions.
However, we must remember that as great as it is for many employees to have the option to work from home, it will result in lower demand for commercial property. Thus potentially damaging one of the UK’s (usually) thriving industries. Not to mention the drop in trade for the many gyms, coffee shops, bars and restaurant whose regular customers are staff that may continue to work from home in the future.
In anticipation of the possible impact, the City of London and Canary Wharf for example, have already implemented steps. These steps will make the return to work as easy and safe as possible to encourage people to return.
However, a shift to working from home on a more permanent basis does come with its downsides for some. A poll by YouGov of more than 2,000 UK office staff, found that 57 per cent said they miss having face-to-face conversations with their colleagues. While 49 per cent miss the friendships made in the office.
It can take time to adjust to a different way of working. At the same time, the potential mental health risks attached to remote work have to be considered. Now more than ever people are talking about mental health. Resulting in us slowly but surely removing the stigma. Therefore, it’s important that employees don’t feel isolated.
Physical two-way conversations and regular, open and transparent feedback is necessary right now as we transition into a new phase of how we work. Many people not accustomed to being away from the office and their colleagues. So, there’s no wonder it can sometimes feel isolating.
That being said, many people, like us here at AIM Internet are advocates of remote work. Therefore, we welcome the transition and see many great benefits both for the employer and the employees.
Perhaps this is a chance to change the way we view work, and rather than it being somewhere we go, work is something we do. The location then becomes irrelevant, our professional success shouldn’t be determined by our place of work. Instead, a world where we don’t work in an office, is simply a world where the focus is on work, and not where we are located.