For the past 5 years, one of the top requirements from candidates in my field, has been the opportunity to work from home. I would even to go so far as to say that it has trumped salary. In fact, research by Wrike showed that over 50% of UK employees choose job satisfaction over salary!
For the past couple of years, we have been very much in a candidate led market, where it has been difficult to recruit highly skilled people. Giving flexibility to work from home as opposed to increasing salary ranges suddenly opened up pools of talent that were not available before. Including those who geographically live out of an area and those who due to disabilities find it difficult to commute. Also, those with children and childcare costs as this is substantially reduced if you are closer, suddenly making the role much more viable.
Historically though there has been some reluctance from employers, perhaps they feel if they can’t see people working then they are not working? However, with new technology available such as Video conferencing is this really any longer a concern? Look at Zooms surge in popularity and maybe worryingly concerns around its safety, but also other options such as Google hangout, slack, private messaging, and keyboard monitoring to measure productivity. When candidates are asked if they would be put off by such close monitoring, they seem perfectly happy and in agreement that it is reasonable and to be expected.
Another key concern is loss of communications, again this can be overcome with morning kick off video meetings to keep all in the team on track and instant messaging. But let’s not underrate the real value of Real Life (non-digital) human interaction. We will still miss that office banter, bouncing ideas off each other, learning from each other and the motivational office buzz all become more difficult remotely.
One of the main concerns of employers has been loss of productivity but most companies find that productivity increases. This could be as people are free to manager their time better. It is true that some of us will work better early in the morning and others a bit later in the day. Also, an office can be a terrible place to work full of distractions and noise. It is far easier to shut ourselves off and focus on the task in hand at home.
So, for now Covid 19 has forced the issue, and suddenly any of us who can, are working from home. Once this is over and employees have realised the benefits of remote working will they want to go back?
All the dreams of remote working such as work / life balance, less time commuting and more time with pets and family (some people commute for up to 4 hours per day), increased productivity, saving money not only on fuel for the commute but also the little things like not buying lunch out or that morning Latte that suddenly starts adding up, freedom to put the washing machine on whenever you please, the list goes on and on
Why have not more companies embraced remote working before? 300 years ago before the industrial revolution remote working was the norm. When most people worked from their homes in Cottage Industry and you were judged on what you produced instead of how many hours you worked.
The industrial revolution forced us out of our houses and to a place of work if nothing else but to use the equipment which was sited in one place, but now with advances in technology we are can work from home again with ease.
Although we must remember that working from home is a skill, and a skill that we must learn quickly during these testing times. We need to have a lot of self-discipline and good structure to the day . I would recommend still getting up early and getting dressed properly (not your jim jams) so to be in the right mindset for a day’s work
Maybe we can make this all work for the better and maybe by commuting less we could also have a massive reduction on pollution.
Once lockdown is over, does this need to be an all or nothing subject? Should we be looking to strike a happy balance with maybe 50% of the time spent in the office and 50% working from home? Of course, this does also pose the question when times are hard, and companies are looking to make cost savings; could companies make savings on smaller office space if only half the workforce is in at a time?
To sum up I think we are on the brink of a cultural change where companies and employees could both benefit greatly if done carefully.
1st Choice Jobs recruiting since 1988.