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Is it time to allow people to work from anywhere?

Posted on 1/09/2020 at 10:20 AM by in Blog

Remote working has been a talking point for many years at this point, but only in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic has it truly taken off and changed the business landscape.

By this point, you are likely tired of reading about this virus – but this is not the focus of this article.

With large companies such as Twitter, Facebook and Shopify all looking at potentially offering remote working forever, the future of the office space has been put into question.

Aside from the lockdown rules and regulations, arguably the biggest lifestyle change brought on by the pandemic has been the amount of people having to work from home. With home lockdown and social distancing to adhere to, keeping people in the office simply wasn’t an option.

With offices slowly returning back to “normal”, both employers and employees are questioning the value of their current workspace, and potentially looking for an alternative.

As you can imagine, there are lots of people that are both for and against working away from the space, so we’ve decided to take a look at the positives and negatives of “working from anywhere”.

As a business, we want people back in the office…

The first thing we need to address and something that is a big concern for many is communication.

The likes of Zoom, WhatsApp and other messaging/chat software were all fine as a quick solution during the initial working from home solution, but their ability as a long-term solution is questionable.

As an employer, everyone being present in the office makes it much easier to manage a team, being able to check in with them in-person and speak to a real person, instead of through a text message or poor-quality video call.

It’s very easy to take things the wrong way or misunderstand instructions when talking via message, which in turn has an effect on the work produced.

This kind of face-to-face contact also allows for smoother training and development processes, and enables employers to keep an eye on employee well-being.

In times like these, it’s very possible that employees will have been struggling with their mental health, so being able to offer that kind of support in-person is essential.

The office itself is specifically geared up to work effectively, with powerful computers, fast WiFi connections and sufficient space all set up for the job. In order to achieve that level of efficiency at home, it would require considerable financial investment.

Working on a laptop at home or in a coffee shop isn’t bad for the short term, but you’re going to need some serious equipment to achieve the same level of productivity.

While some employers might not agree, we think it’s actually better for staff to be able to socialise with co-workers.

One of the main issues we’ve found with employees working remotely is the sense of isolation due to a lack of people around to talk to. While constant chatter isn’t encouraged, being able to turn to someone to ask for help or having a conversation when making a coffee goes a long way as far as employee mental health is concerned.

Discussion and engagement between staff are actually a great way to boost morale, and it brings the team closer as a whole.

So, with all that in mind, clearly, we all need to be back in the office, right?

Our employees may think differently…

While most employers are keen to get back into the workplace, some employees don’t share the same enthusiasm.

Despite being at home, many employees have found that they are a lot more productive than usual, due to a lack of distractions and things pulling them away.

Some have found that the home conditions make them work more efficiently, free from meetings they don’t really need to be in and office conversations. This might come as a surprise to some employers, who might be under the impression that the temptation to relax and do very little work would be too much for some members of the team.

Another attractive point in favour of working from home is the amount of money that gets saved every day, with little to no travel expenses being a major positive.

Many people have enjoyed the lack of travel time/general commute during lockdown, allowing them to make the most of their days instead of wasting time travelling – whether it’s via car, bus or train.

(We won’t lie, an extra hour in bed in the morning does sound quite tempting!)

Some people have found that remote working provides them with a much better work/life balance, being able to clock off and already be in the comfort of their own home, which in turn actually makes them happier to work.

There is also childcare, which is no longer much of an issue if there is someone at home to look after the kids – saving both time and money.

All of these factors add up to make a quite compelling counter argument for working full time in the office.

However, we have found that some people have really struggled to find a good work/life balance, not being able to find a good spot to work from or overworking/not being able to separate work and home life.

So, what’s the compromise?

There are clearly positives and negatives to both working situations. While the office is a lot more practical for getting the job done, it can sometimes come at the expense of employee happiness and well-being.

So, which is better – working in the office or working from anywhere?

We think the compromise is somewhere in the middle. There is definitely some room for discussion, and striking a nice balance could end up working well for everyone.

Whether it’s the odd day here and there or making every Friday a day spent at home, offering that kind of flexibility to employees will go a long way in creating a positive working environment.

This pandemic has shown a lot of employers that working from home is possible, and in 2020 there are no real excuses for not entertaining the idea of remote working. However, this does not mean that employees should take advantage, and they should respect that it is ultimately the employers’ decision.

What’s your take? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Tweet us @utilitysearches to get involved in the conversation today.

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