Plenty of workers have been advocating for more flexible, remote working for years now. However, it wasn’t until the pandemic forced millions of companies to work from home that many of them got what they’d been asking for.
Now, months after the virus started causing problems, businesses are moving ahead with different approaches. Some are eager to reopen their offices – or have done already – while others are planning to stay remote for good. The question is, what kind of impact is the latter going to have on companies and staff moving forward?
Initial Reports Suggest Efficiency
Companies didn’t have much time to work out how they were going to function in the pandemic before lockdown forced many of them to close their offices immediately. With employees suddenly having to work from home with little preparation, there were fears that performance would drop, and businesses would suffer more than they already had.
However, while there was an adjustment period, many companies saw positive results after the change. A survey of over 12,000 professionals found that roughly 75% were just as productive, if not more so, in the first few months of the pandemic. It likely helped that a lot of companies adopted cloud systems and kept in contact through video calls. Without these services, most businesses would have suffered without an office to work in.
Can This Be Sustained?
It’s easy to look at results like this and believe them to be a sign that remote working is the future. However, a few months is nowhere near enough time to make such significant judgments. That’s especially the case when you factor in the reason why people are remote working, as well as the fact that the experience is incredibly new for most employees.
There’s a significant possibility that the longer people work from home, the likelier they are to suffer drops in productivity. Distractions are everywhere outside of the office, and there’s little opportunity for employers to monitor staff behaviour. Although 70% of organisations believe remote working can sustain these gains in productivity, according to this report, achieving this will require effort and dedication on everyone’s part.
A Loss Of Company Culture
Even if productivity can be sustained through remote working, there’s more to a company than just how much work it produces. If that’s all a business values, then it can expect to see high turnover rates moving forward because employees need benefits to motivate them.
Obviously, having more flexible, remote working – where they can stay in their pyjamas all day and put the TV on in the background – is a benefit for some people. However, after a while, this can grow stale as they begin to miss one of the major advantages of office working – socialisation.
Being around others and forming relationships with colleagues is something that a lot of employees look forward to. However, when everyone works from home, you lose that experience. Weekly meetings over Zoom can’t replace the random conversations people often have in the office, and this leads to the destruction of company culture. Before long, people may view their fellow employees as strangers, and that can lead to feelings of isolation and a drop in productivity.
There Needs To Be A Compromise
It’s clear from what we’ve seen so far that remote working can improve productivity, which naturally benefits business. However, fully embracing this venture could hinder a company’s success in the long run.
The smartest thing to do is find a reliable middle ground where employees divide their time between the office and home. By doing this, staff are able to reap the benefits of remote working while still getting to satisfy their social requirements.
How soon this can be applied depends on the COVID-19 situation in each area. Unless the government have prohibited it, though, there’s no reason why companies can’t start bringing employees back in for several days a week. Workplaces will have to abide by certain regulations to be deemed safe, but they’re not hard to meet when you hire an expert in professional office cleaning. That’s Nexus Kleen for those in Perth who want a dedicated and thorough service that won’t break the bank.
The Future’s Still Uncertain
As much as we can try to predict what will work best for companies moving forward, it’s impossible to forecast anything with 100% accuracy. 2020 has proven that something can appear out of nowhere and throw everything off the rails. So, as much as we believe that a mixture of remote and office working is the right move, there’s a possibility that one could ultimately prove far more beneficial than the other.
For now, though, the best thing to do is test the waters and see what impact it has. Smaller businesses, where employees tend to be closer because there are less of them, may find that office working will become more valued moving forward. However, it all depends on what each member of staff prefers, and how the different styles of working affect their performance.
People spent years asking for greater flexibility at work, and now it seems their wish is finally getting granted. Hopefully, this will be to the benefit of both companies and their staff. However, only time will tell on that one.