Life After Covid: The Home Office
Is this the new way of working?
The Coronavirus pandemic is now finally begin to slowly ease around the world as well as in the United Kingdom and on the back of that, businesses are now assessing their workforce’s office environment and considering whether the vast amounts of office space they currently occupy are now sustainable given the quick and easy transition to a work-from-home schedule rather than a commute to the office.
For many, working from home is the new norm during these tough times, but how many employees will adjust and actually prefer working from home in the future?
A snippet from the BBC news website about the new working from home way of life
For many of us, our homes have become our workplaces over the past few months, and a full return to the office still appears a remote prospect. Major tech companies say they are open to their staff working from home permanently. Employees are coming to realise remote working is not only possible but, in some cases, preferable. A shift to a new way of working might already be under way. Such a shift could have profound implications on our home life, and by extension on the life of our towns and cities: almost a quarter of all office space in England and Wales is in central London alone.
To understand those implications, we brought together four experts on city life, all of whom were working from home.
Responses from the tech industry
Technology companies are welcoming working from home for its employees and actively encouraging the ongoing method of working. We’ve read and heard from numerous technology companies such as Twitter who say that its employees can carry on working from home indefinitely.
Other tech companies including Google & Facebook have told employees they may continue working from home until the end of the year. As well as allowing employees to carry on working from home, Facebook have also given its employees a bonus payment of $1,000, around £807, to help them with their new childcare costs & other work from home expenses.
The new working from home lifestyle also means companies are questioning their need for office space. With many employees logging in & working remotely the need for large, open-plan offices are coming into question especially as companies look to cut their expenditures while the pandemic continues.
What about real people?
I live with my housemate who works for a shares organisation who started working from home in early March at the height of the epidemic and was subsequently furloughed by his employer
In the beginning, he was carrying on as usual with his employer lending him a company laptop, him remotely logging into his workspace everyday and going about his daily tasks and duties of his role, which I should point out is a Compliance Manager.
As the weeks went on, his manager kept in contact with him, updating him on whether he would be going back to his office soon and participating in regular conference calls.
After two months working from home, it became a regular way of life for him and things were going alright, him often telling me about how he feels more relaxed and can focus better on his work yet having the flexibility to take regular breaks, go out for his daily exercise or go up to the supermarket to get some essentials. In a sense, the perfect work-life balance?
Is this the new future for employees? Could working from home be the new way to achieve the perfect work-life balance while reducing stress, commuting time and being able to work more freely & remotely?
Would employers be more encouraged to expand their workforce and create a set of employees who are mainly based at home? Technology is certainly helping this question be answered with the rise of new remote working applications and services such as TeamViewer & LogMeIn remote desktop applications as well as online collaborating services such as Slack or Microsoft Teams.
Applications such as Microsoft Teams are making working from home while being productive much easier than they used to be. Collaborating anywhere with colleagues in a virtual office is slowly becoming more popular
The only concern that I feel employers would have is around security. With the resurgence of home working comes the added threat of security breaches and confidentiality. It’s a very delicate cost-effective balancing act of saving money in office space rental with the cost of enhancing security for those people working remotely.
I am sure in the future we will see companies come out and announce plans or measures to combat the various challenges facing the working world in the coming months and years after the Coronavirus epidemic has long gone.
We’ll all await how the world responds to working from home and whether it will lead to reductions in office space rentals or whether employees will get the freedom to choose their workplace locations whether that be at a desk or from the comfort of their armchair.