The Covid19 pandemic has resulted in a great many more people working from home, and this has brought about a shift in how people regard this new way of working. Conference video calls are now commonplace, remote access to secure systems can be allowed, and the time spent in commuting has been abolished.
Does this dramatic change in working practices mean that employers are in a position to make their employees happier? Does working from home improve productivity as a result of less stress? Some people would say Yes to those questions, and it cannot be denied that a change in environment can often spark new ideas and innovations.
Of course, working in this way relies on modern technology. Planning communications is a vital part of this, and monitoring productivity is also important. When staff are not physically visible, how can managers be sure they are working efficiently? That question will no doubt concern many business owners, so it is important that they are able to monitor productivity levels.
But while many people have embraced working from home, and some even work during the time they would have been commuting, is it all good news? Disabled people who struggle to travel on public transport would definitely prefer working from home, and nobody likes the daily commute, but does it suit everyone? Some people may simply not have the space to work efficiently from home. Others will inevitably miss the daily contact with colleagues. Group conference calls are all very well, but it is easy to miss out on subtle things like body language if you are separated by a camera. And, let’s face it, most people enjoy social interaction at a personal level.
The obvious answer going forward, even after the lifting of restrictions imposed as a result of Covid19, must surely be to do what works best for each individual. Letting employees have the choice of how they work will result in happier staff, which in turn improves productivity levels. A happier workforce means better business. If that means using smaller premises for traditional office work, combined with remote working where it can be done and where people prefer that, then perhaps we should move away from the old dogma that people should be seen in the office every day.