Slowly the lock down is easing and furloughed staff can see the light of the office looming at the end of the long dark tunnel. Or is it? A survey from the Global Work from Home Survey found that 77% of the workforce say they want to keep working from home when the pandemic is over. This represents a 132% increase over those who did before COVID-19.
We keep hearing the phrase ‘the new normal’ and with people having to continue physical distancing for the foreseeable future this seems the safer and more sensible route for both employers and employees in the future, protecting themselves, their families and improving overall well being.However, one of the big questions they wanted the survey to answer was what the long term impact the crisis would have on the future of the office. One of the researchers who fielded the survey reported “Based on what we’re seeing, if employees get their way, they’ll be spending three days a week at the office and two at home."
And maybe this is the way to go based on these findings from the Society for Human Resource Management:
Back in 2019 70% of employers said they offered regular work-from-home,
but only 7% actually offer it.
Right now, mid lock down the data is saying:
- Only 6% say they would not want to work from home in the future.
- When working alone, which accounts for 57% of a worker’s day, employees say they are productive 75% of the time at home, compared to only 63% at the office.
- When working with others, which accounts for 43% of a worker’s day, employees say they are equally productive at home versus in the office (61% vs. 60% of the time respectively), but they are more satisfied when collaborating in person (61% satisfied with collaborating at home vs. 87% at the office).
- Distractions and interruptions account for 73 minutes a day when people are at the office and 35 minutes a day when they work at home. Surprising! Even with the unusual challenges to working from home right now — spouses, children, pets — employees feel less distracted than they do at the office.
- The majority of employees (60%) would be willing to give up their assigned desk at the office in exchange for the opportunity to work from home some or all of the time.
All good food for thought as we chew over what to do with our team and office. However, on a personal level I have not found it that easy or indeed an inspiring place to be...yes, I have saved money on lunch and petrol, and yes I can take the dogs out for a walk during the day but:
The boundaries: working away from home gives me structure and boundaries between work and personal life, being at home all the time I find life gets muddled. Do you switch the computer off at 5.30, or just check to see if you got a reply to that email?
The drive: this gives me the time to reset myself - winding myself up or down...the drink at 6pm is becoming the new norm to help with the wind down, which isn't sustainable.
Speedy wifi: Ours is a nightmare at home - pathetic even. I find meetings pretty clumsy and it’s easier to misconstrue things that are said.
Kid/work balance: Kids see me at home but not really present...not sure this is fair to them or me and I admit I feel constantly irritated with their interruptions and demands for food. Why are they always hungry?
Most importantly the team work: I miss working with the team. We bounce well off each other and it’s easy to lose your mojo in the solitude of working at home. I miss the input of my colleagues, the impromptu chats by the kettle sparking off creativity and new ideas and I can see it could be easy to become unmotivated especially if the family wasn't about to provide the interaction - even if they are currently really annoying.
The Solution?This will all unfold as we adjust and as a dynamic nation we will innovate to look after and support the new norm, taking into account employees welfare both mentally and physically. Last year for example it was all about company sustainability and we adjusted our business to organise company off-sites to bring international teams together for their annual brainstorm, all inline with CSR objectives.
I can now see us going one stage further as the corporate needs will change - yes sustainability will remain important but so will employee well-being and team creativity - off sites to merge all 3 objectives will be required and will be my new mission. So watch this space. Please get in contact if anyone wants to start planning, after all 'prior planning prevents poor performance" - or so my dad used to say...
on 26 / 05 / 2020