The New Normal- Working from Home

Working from home was seen as a temporary fix for an unusual situation. However, this has become a longer necessity than was originally thought. Many people had hoped to return to their offices and initially this was been encouraged by our government, but there appears to have been several U-turns on this policy. Most of the people I know who have been working from home, started doing so in March and in October are still working from home. (And they all really enjoy doing so) Localized lock-downs and Track and Trace, are keeping many of us in our homes.

The majority of office workers believe they will still be working from home until at least 2021 even with the government’s best efforts to get people back into the workplace. More than four out of 10 office workers are still working from their homes. This is despite around half of the respondents, 49 % stating their employer had requested that they return to the office. It shows businesses and the Government still have their work cut out to convince employees that it is safe to return to the workplace. A major obstacle for people going back to work is public transport, with the survey revealing that 57% believing it is unsafe to take the bus or train to work.

Many major companies continue working remotely and plenty have no immediate plans to return to the office. Indeed, and Google have extended their work-from-home policies by an entire year. Employees don’t have to return to their offices until summer 2021, and both companies plan to accommodate remote-working indefinitely in some capacity. Uber, American Express and Airbnb have also extended their remote- working policies.

The Understanding Society Covid-19 Study has stated that nine out of 10 those who had worked from home during lockdown would like to continue in some form. The increasing costs of public transport and overcrowded roads and trains have made getting to work, expensive and stressful. If you spend your working life at a computer or using a telephone, in therapy, could you do this anywhere? Are people much happier and engaged without the stress of commuting? We had even started to see a dramatic reduction in traffic, congestion, and pollution. The benefits to the environmental impacts us all.

Industry insiders estimate that we will see 25-30% of the workforce working at home on a multiple-days-a-week basis by the end of 2021, in both the UK and USA. In the last few decades, the demand for flexibility in where and how people work has been building. Before the crisis, surveys repeated showed 80% of employees want to work from home at least some of the time. Over a third would take a pay cut in exchange for the option.

Its not just workers who can see the benefits of remote- working.  Businesses desperate to shed costs could save money, occupancy studies have shown just how inefficiently office space was being used. Employees around the globe are not at their desk 50% to 60% of the time!

Covid-19 will also likely cause executives to rethink the need for travelling to meetings. Whilst virtual meetings may not have all the same benefits of being face-to-face, the savings may outweigh the costs much of the time. Zoom meetings are now very much part of so everyday life.

In Wales, their Governments polices differ from the English Government. Nearly a third of people should still be working from homes, even when coronavirus restrictions have eased, says the Welsh Ministers. Who aim to see about 30% of the workforce in Wales staying at or near to their homes in the long term, adopting a culture that supports remote-working. This move is seen as a way of reducing congestion and pollution and improving the work-life balance of the Welsh population.

I can see the good points and bad points of this move, and it will be interesting to see what happens in Scotland, as the UK is divided in its thinking of the best way forward. I think many things will not go back to the old way of doing things, the work-life balance has been lacking for many of us and having had the time to reflect on this people don’t want, in many cases, to return to the old ways. Not going out and seeing other people could potentially cause mental problems for workers isolated from their colleagues. There are social aspects to working with other people. Seeing and talking to others is vital to our well-being.

Other businesses in the high street, in particular coffee shops, are been badly affected by people not going out to work and not consuming as much. So, I guess this has to be addressed too. Its very sad that many businesses are having to close. In a changing culture, there will always be winners and losers.

Working from home permanently, would also require some re-organisation and adjustments in having an actual work space and not allowing your kitchen, living room or bedroom to become an office 24/7. A work environment which is over-cluttered can drain your energy and one which is well- planned can boost energy levels. An environment is the invisible hand which shapes human behaviour, according to author James Clear. Our homes are now our offices, meeting rooms, school rooms even our gyms. (Vital to our fitness, if we are moving less) As we live, eat, sleep and work from one place and life becomes more virtual. I hope that as our life’s change this is with positively moving onwards to better times.

 

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