With the new year fast approaching and the roll-out of a coronavirus vaccine just beginning, conversation has quickly turned to what we should expect from our work life post COVID-19.
There is no doubt that attitudes towards the ‘traditional office’ have changed, as employees have proven during this unintentional mass home working experiment, they are capable of working effectively from a remote location, with some company’s even experiencing a rise in productivity throughout this period. This has led many businesses to revaluate the purpose of their office space, with some suggesting that they are now faced with home working being presented as an expectation as opposed to a privilege, which for certain employees is carrying similar weight to the allure of a benefits package.
It is obvious to see why home working has gained the favour of many over this past year, with Company’s reducing overhead costs, those juggling families being able to create a better work-life balance, and workers benefiting from ditching the rigmarole of the daily commute to and from the office. All of which have had a positive effect on business efficiencies, as employees have been able to work longer hours, felt less stressed, and have not been limited by a rigid work structure, all whilst benefitting from that much needed extra cash they would have previously used to cover travel costs!
On this basis it is evident that home working is here to stay in some capacity but if it is so great, why are we not all packing up and bidding farewell to our offices forever? Well, the simple truth is that whilst the prospect of working from home might now seem like our shiny new toy, not everyone has adapted to this new way of life quite so seamlessly.
Despite many businesses seeing rises in productivity and assumed improvement in work/life balance during periods of home working, studies show that employees are in some cases overworking themselves. Employees are feeling pressured to work endless hours for reasons such as, fear of impending redundancies, inability to escape the workplace, being unable to access support from colleagues, fearing Company spot checks and much more! This is having a negative impact not only on their mental state but also on their physical wellbeing, as many employees are burning themselves out as we approach the years end.
Moreover, as humans we seek face to face interaction, and so, working, building, and maintaining relationships via screens is proving more difficult for some, again taking its toll on their mental wellbeing. This is also becoming trickier for businesses to uphold and convey their corporate cultures, as in some cases, new recruits have never stepped foot into their office or have met their team to gain that all-important ‘Company know how’. And so, whilst home working has presented itself as an effective short-term fix during an unprecedented time, the long-term effects of maintaining this approach to work, is set to have devastating effects on employee wellbeing.
With this in mind, there is clearly still a place in the corporate world for offices however, their purpose has now changed. Attitudes have changed and employees have become aware that they are able to work remotely, and now believe that they should attend the office for a reason i.e. a team meeting. And so, many businesses have introduced the idea of hybrid working, which allows employees to work part the week from home to cover individual projects and admin based work, and the rest of the week in the office to complete team projects and to catch up with colleagues. This concept has been received well as a happy medium by employees, who see this as a positive step in maintaining control of their work/life balance whilst keeping physical contact with their organisation.
If you are interested in accessing support for managing home workers or finding out more about how you can implement hybrid working, then please get in touch with our HR Team who will assist you with your enquiry.