Should Remote Work Become the New Normal Post-Covid?
A discernible uptick in output and an increase in employee job satisfaction lends some credence to the pro work-from-home argument
There was little if any warning at all before we all had to make a sharp transition into remote working all over the UK. Very few executives gave it a chance of survival and were already brainstorming on how to make up for lost output. As it turns out, remote work has increased output in many places and many ways. The question we are now left to answer is, "Is remote work a sustainable model moving forward?"
According to some sources, "50% of the UK workforce will be working from home or out of office within the next few years". We all knew and expected this long before the pandemic, but this calendar just might have been expedited significantly by the Virus. What has been the effect of the work-from-home policies?
1. Output and productivity has increased
The very first thing Companies Are looking for in a transition like this is the output numbers and productivity levels of employees. This should rightly be the very first witness to the witness stand should remote work be judged faithfully.
At the end of March 2020, the ONS launched the online Labour Market Survey (LMS), a survey of around 18,000 households per quarter. The resulting Coronavirus and homeworking in the UK: April 2020 report discovered that employees who worked from home were equally likely to work more or fewer hours than usual, but those who worked more hours saw significant upticks in outputs such that it balanced the slack of others.
Related: How to Make Money as a Stay-at-Home Mom
The chief reason cited for the slack in productivity was the presence of children and especially toddlers at home while the chief reason for the growth in hours and productivity for others was the absence of children and toddlers.
This begs the question, Would output increase even more significantly post-COVID when children can safely return to school?
Nick Baker, broadband expert at Uswitch.com, responding to the ONS survey said: "Our research found that the change has been positive for many people, with two-thirds of workers saying they are just as productive as before, or even more so. More than half of people said working from home had improved their quality of life too, with two-fifths exercising more and than a third eating healthier as they ditch the commute.
Twitter's CEO Jack Dorsey seems to have validated the whole premise as he announced that all his employees can now choose to work from home, FOREVER!. IT-based firms should be greatly comforted and challenged by this bold move. Since it was always coming, why not now?
2. Identifying What's Important
Everything seems pretty important until you are forced to do without it. Loads of office practices and resources are superfluous and have been for a long time, but we have held onto them religiously mostly out of practice, routine, comfort and in some cases, a stubborn refusal to use what technology has placed at our disposal.
Marketing Execs have learned that traveling 3 hours both ways for a 10 minute face-to-face with a client to sell a product can be accomplished equally effectively via a Zoom call. They could have a looped demonstration video of the product in the background as they make their pitch.
Companies are learning the extra perks they give employees isn't mandatory for Job satisfaction at the office as employees are reporting increased job satisfaction working from home despite the COVID-imposed difficulties.
Many processes and systems are being happily ditched while some have proven rather difficult to replace with an online/IT process. This would aid companies in making decisions on what departments return to the office post-covid and who continues to work from home.
After Accenture sent home all of their 500,000 employees worldwide and resorted to using, Microsoft Teams and software that enabled co-workers to talk, videoconference, whiteboard, and chat by text with one another, Paul Daugherty, the firm's chief technology officer, stated:
"Companies are figuring out how to "virtualize" every part of work — every meeting, every employee check-in — so that it could potentially be done remotely"
More than ever, this virtualization has become necessary.
3. Creativity and job satisfaction
There has historically been a strong correlation between Remote Work and Job satisfaction and recent surveys have shown that this trend has continued in the US and the UK. Employees have reported an "overwhelmingly positive" effect of remote work on them, further increasing their Job satisfaction.
A large part of this satisfaction also seems attributable to their freedom to be creative in executing their jobs, as opposed to the routine of office work. Also, the ability to choose their work hours and customize their workspace has helped greatly.
4. Data security
With the recent Twitter Hack of Prominent Twitter accounts, come loads of lessons, and more than ever it has shown us how easily data can be stolen. Companies in the Uk have historically not been too keen on advanced security.
What was perhaps sIgnificant was Twitter's admission that the hack had started from security-vulnerable employees who had access to their internal systems.
The Covid era has more than ever re-emphasized the need for data security and has seen a great upsurge in the use of VPNs as well as employees are advised to mask their IP addresses to prevent data breaches of the company as well as to safeguard their data.
The surge in remote working has also accelerated the talk around Zero trust infrastructure to further improve data security. This is largely a great thing as employers are assured of increased safety practices from employees away from their company facilities.
There are way more compelling reasons than this article can carry, but when we combine a discernible uptick in output with streamlined processes and increased employee job satisfaction, the case for remote work stands a greater chance of winning in court.
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