The majority of office workers will be back in the full swing of things after the tumultuous events following the onset of Covid-19. However, there is a stark difference between the working trends of the pre-Covid and post-Covid worlds.
Yes, we’re talking about working from home. It rapidly became a necessity that many businesses were unprepared for and now it seems to be an aspect that most organisations couldn’t function without.
UK workers have settled in to their routines of rolling out of bed and into the 'office' in one fell swoop, and while the thought of continuing to work from home might seem appealing, there is plenty to be said for office life.
Of course the lack of commute, that extra half an hour in bed and the chance to schedule work around other responsibilities are all great benefits of flexible working life. However, it’s safe to say that people won’t miss the feeling of isolation which can come hand in hand with remote working. Not to mention the added tensions of being at close quarters with household members 24/7, trying to hold professional video meetings with noisy children in the background and the cabin fever slowly kicking in.
In spite of this, two in five UK employees said they have started looking for a new role because their current business is not offering adequate flexible working options, according to our recent research.
HR software company Personio also found that UK employees were the most reluctant to return to the office, with only one in three attending at least part-time, compared to 59% of those across Europe.
These recent findings spark questions about a possible disconnect between employees wanting to split their time between working from home and the office, versus employer ambitions for staff to be back in the office full-time.
This is supported by insights from the Office for National Statistics, which found that 85% of people want to use a hybrid approach of combining both home and office working in future.
However people might feel about returning to offices, working alongside colleagues on a physical basis can actually be of benefit to you, your organisation and the economy surrounding it.
Immersion into the culture
It’s important to understand a company’s values and culture and this can only truly be achieved by watching other people and how they interact with one another. This is especially important for new starters, who need to navigate the way a company works and may struggle to do so if they’re onboarded and trained remotely.
It can be more difficult for new ideas and fresh insights to circulate remotely as a lot of knowledge sharing occurs through informal conversations between people during a routine work day.
When working from home, meetings and interactions tend to be tightly scheduled via a video conferencing app and we must be mindful that this is resulting in ‘Zoom fatigue’. This extra level of effort means that people, now slightly tired of constant pre-arranged remote calls, are less likely to ask a quick question or share an insight which might spark a change in direction or an exciting new approach to a project.
Offers a sense of purpose
Another added bonus of spending time with colleagues in person is that it reinforces the fact you share common goals. Being part of a group of people who have the same objectives or obstacles improves overall satisfaction when they are either achieved or overcome.
It’s good for CSR
It’s important to think about outside the office and the organisation's wider surroundings and the impact you can have on them. Returning to work, even if it’s only for a few days a week, will help to support the local economy and get it back up and running during what is still very much a critical time. People returning to offices means that public transport will be used more frequently, while nearby coffee shops, restaurants and shops will reap the benefits of renewed spending post-COVID.
It certainly seems like remote working is here to stay, but it’s important to remember the many benefits that come from in-office working. Adopting a hybrid approach to working in future could be the answer which benefits everyone in the long run.
If you would like to discuss this or any of the topics covered in our articles, please get in touch.