Are We Seeing a Permanent Shift Towards Working From Home?

Is Working From Home the Future?

If you’re anything like the other 7 billion people on Earth, life has probably been a little odd these past few months. The world has taken a bizarre twist since the emergence of COVID-19 at the end of 2019, with individuals, businesses, schools and entire nations having to adapt to a very different kind of existence.

Arguably the biggest shift for most has been the need to work from home (WFH). With offices and other places of employment forcing people to come into close contact, the decision was made by many companies to give their workers the freedom to do their job remotely.

While we’re far from out of the woods in regards to the virus, this change in attitudes does pose an intriguing question when it comes to what working life might look like post-COVID. It is unlikely things will be entirely the same. But, will the changes enforced by coronavirus result in a future world where working from home becomes the new norm?

 The Pros

There are a wealth of benefits to a move towards working from home in the future. Here are just some of the most prevalent.

  • Employee Trust. Trust is integral to any workforce. And that doesn’t just mean employers trusting their team. It also extends to employees feeling like they have the faith of their managers. In fact, a study by Forbes discovered that as many as 55% of the CEOs surveyed revealed the lack of trust from their employees was a direct threat to their company’s success.
  • Freedom for all. Likewise, people need to feel as though they have the freedom to be themselves and live their lives. The days of the ‘drone’ punching in at 9 am and leaving at 5 pm are long gone. Workers want to feel like individuals, with their social and personal needs taken into account. A flexible policy makes allowances for this.
  • Overhead costs. It’s not something you really think about until the moment you open your own office. Overhead costs like gas and electricity quickly add up – especially in the modern, digital age. Then there’s space rental, cleaning fees and even insurance to think about. Eliminating these figures can save you literally thousands every year.
A small glass filled with copper coins, with a small plant sprouting
One of the positives of working from home is saving money

The Cons

But it’s not all roses and sunshine. While many people might fall in love with the idea of working from home or where and when you want in the future, there are considerations which need to be taken into account.

  • Communication barriers. Giving someone the freedom to do what they want with their day is great. But it does mean they might be away from their laptop for those 10 minutes when you happen to really need them.
  • Isolation and disconnection. Perhaps not as bleak as it sounds. This factor is more focused around the lack of office culture you might experience without a central hub. While the line between colleague and friend will often blur, the lack of face-to-face connection can damage the chance to cultivate any kind of personal relationships. As Breathe HR highlights, this can have a huge impact on profits.
  • Procrastination. Sadly, not everyone can be trusted. While this is likely to be a very small percentage of your workforce, it’s those few bad apples who have the potential to spoil an entire crop.
Woman working from home with headphones on, looking out of the window, being distracted
One of the negatives of working remotely is that you are more likely to be distracted and procrastinate

Will Working From Home Be the Future?

It certainly could be. Attitudes have clearly shifted as a result of the pandemic, with a recent study by Direct Line highlighting that as many as 44% of UK workers will ask for more permanent flexibility once the pandemic is over.

Perhaps most pertinent of all will be the output and results themselves. If a business notices no detrimental impact (perhaps even a positive swing) in workloads, deadline management and finances, there’s no reason why they won’t lean towards policies of this kind in the future.

By contrast, the opposite is also true. We live in a results-orientated world. Any company choosing to trial remote working in the future will be understandably hesitant if they’ve noticed a downturn in income during coronavirus – regardless of the factors involved.

As such, it’s perhaps best to assume flexibility will (or won’t) be implemented on a company-by-company basis. Businesses are often wary of failing to adapt. If a remote working policy starts becoming the norm for the majority of companies, even those who are hesitant might start to follow suit.

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