Knowledge is Power

No More Work from Home?

The advice to work from home has again been removed as part of the lifting of the Plan B measures which were put in place because of the Omicron variant. As with everything government/covid related, the reasons for the decision are causing more discussion than the decision itself. But with a view to staying on topic, in this article we’ll stick to the timeline of remote working and how it has impacted businesses and workers themselves.

Pre-Pandemic Remote Working

Working from home isn’t a new thing, what used to be called “telework” or “telecommuting” was considered to be the future of work even 30 years ago. But this was back in the 80s when people were sceptical of the motives of employers who might look for ways to cut back on workers rights. From 2000 onwards, as employees began to see the benefits of reduced commuting time and a positive impact on their work life balance, many workers (particularly women who so often had to juggle work and childcare) even requested it as a perk of the job, and it became common in industries such as customer services, programming, and office support. But companies were often reluctant to adopt remote working on a wider scale, fearing that they would get less output for the same amount of pay. This was until the pandemic came along to turn everyone’s ideas on their heads.

Covid-19 and “The New Normal”

On the 16th March 2020, Boris Johnson asked everyone to “stop non-essential contact and travel” and on the 23rd March the first official lockdown was announced, preventing everyone except key workers from leaving home to go to work. Managers everywhere were now scrambling to make remote work work so that business could continue as normally as possible. This meant, for the first time for some, seriously considering options to make remote work not only possible but also effective.

Better Balance and Increased Productivity

As strategies were put in place to make business processes work out of the office, managers quickly realised the benefits of remote work, as productivity actually increased. For us at Ship Shape, we have seen an increase of 60% in productivity as remote work has been adopted across our business. And for many, remote work was a lifeline during lockdown. 90% of our workers at Ship Shape wanted to continue to remote work rather than furlough, and like many other businesses who have embraced remote working, this has happily meant that we have been able to continue to support our clients throughout the pandemic.

Teething Problems

Despite the benefits of remote working to both workers and employers, the shift isn’t without its problems. Rising software costs for businesses who look to improve their online security and protect data as people work from home is just one concern for companies. And for those working from home there are also kinks to be ironed out, such as knowing exactly when and how to switch off (and on again) and dealing with the potential loneliness and isolation from seeing people in real life. A push towards supporting their workers’ mental wellbeing is being adopted by many employers, and it is a steep learning curve for many. Innovative solutions are coming out all the time though, one of which is the flurry of remote work online communities, which encourage daily meetings to discuss what you’re working on, and focus working time where people work “together” remotely. These are happening both in-house organised by employers themselves and by external companies.

Remote Work Here to Stay

Despite the lift on Plan B measures, many companies are now permanently adopting remote work, or at least a hybrid model which allows people more flexibility and control over how they complete their work. Having reaped the benefits of a more productive workforce during the pandemic, many companies now have a firmer grasp on productivity over hours as a means to measure the effectiveness of staff. Companies should take the time to consider the impact of remote working on their business and workers and how they can make remote work, a hybrid model, or a full return to in person work most effective as we move into the latter stages of the pandemic. At Ship Shape, we are always looking at ways to assist our clients and are here to provide advice about how best to support your workers during this changing time. As a tried and tested fully remote company, regardless of lockdowns or isolations we will always be here to help you.
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