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Traditional officesIn the past employees who typically undertook administration and office duties were required to work from a physical office. In many cases staff excelled with this approach. They welcomed the chance to leave home to work in comfortable surroundings and in professional social environments. This traditional method provided access to office supplies, team mates and most importantly IT infrastructure.
Working in a vibrant and busy setting instils a sense of solidarity and pride with many organisations having rules on working hours, dress policy and personal conduct. These so called directives whilst not appreciated by all sets expectations and creates a sense of belonging. And although dressing smart can feel like a chore it has a direct link between feeling more confident and tells the brain it’s time to work.
Plus having a fixed location and set hours helps to create a distinguishing virtual barrier between work and everyday life. But when COVID struck in 2020 workers were forced into full time home working thus evoking the biggest work from home experiment ever conducted.
The results have created a mix of responses. Those who were used to long commutes enjoyed the chance to stay at home during lockdown 1.0. But after a long twelve months are workers set to return back to the office or will they file a request to remain at home full time.
Comparing office life to home workingIf you are considering incorporating home working into your permanent routine you will need to approach your manager to discuss if this is feasible. Before making your decision, here are some helpful questions to determine which option might be beneficial for you.
Working from home:
• Are you fed up with working from home?
• How has this impacted your life?
• Can you continue to work in the same way full time?
• Do you have the right infrastructure to make this sustainable?
• What other technology do you need?
• How will you continue to connect with your boss and team mates?
• How do you honestly feel about returning to the office?
• If you have children how might your decision affect them?
• Are you prepared to undertake the commute?
• Which aspects of office life do you prefer?
• Will life differ if you go back to the office?
• Have you saved money? If so, how much?
• Do you feel safe transitioning back to a physical space?
The ultimate decision lies with your boss and depending on their thoughts and attitude you may not have much persuading to do. Whilst working from home is advantageous for employees due to the flexibility and other benefits it is also beneficial to employers.
According to ONS in April 2020 46.6% of people in employment carried out some home working. 86% did so because of COVID and 30.3% said they did more work. This supports the findings that people who home work are known to increase work hours. Employees feel the need to show they are effective and therefore try to impress by taking on extra work. This premise can ruin the concept and turns happy workers into burnt out and dysfunctional employees.
Prioritising COVID SafetyFor those who are desperate to go back to the office after COVID but are feeling overwhelmed due to safety precautions they may want to enquire what their company is doing to protect staff. The pandemic has caused us all to rethink social and working habits eliciting new innovative ways to remain connected without the need for physical contact.
All businesses have a care of duty to protect their employees and must follow COVID related guidelines assessing risks, implement cleaning strategies and other methods to keep the office safe. If this is a concern and stopping you from wanting to return to the office speak to your direct line manager or to your HR team.
Letting staff work their wayOn the flip side if you are a business owner and are planning to enforce changes to your companies working policy you should be listening to your staff before going ahead. This decision might make the difference between keeping staff and losing them to a competitor.
If you find that your team needs to work in the same location there are options you can introduce. The most common being finding a suitable alternative such as a serviced office space. This option can enable teams to collaborate from a middle ground in terms of distance whilst having access to common amenities. Plus, it might be more cost effective than paying expensive rentals on space in prestigious locations you no longer need.
Another solution which is beginning to take hold is the capacity to split time between travelling to work and remaining local. This is called hybrid working and enables workers to continue with trending habits whilst having the option to head into the office a few days a week. This will create a balance between spending time at home and having a physical location to carry out team working activities or simply because a member of staff enjoys the social interaction.
ConclusionIn today’s business world employees have more say than ever before. If they dislike an aspect of their job, they have the power to leave or to use their initiative and skills to start their own company.
Employers must ensure that wherever staff chooses to work that their wellbeing and mental health remains a priority. Helping to create an adaptive environment to ensure employees work efficiently without the need to impress by working additional hours. Performing regular check ins with the necessary career support will make all the difference.
As technology continues to improve there are no real reasons as to why staff members should commute long hours and pay exuberant costs just to get to a physical space to be productive. The ability to do the job at hand should not be governed solely by leaders the decision needs to be a team effort.