With the rising cases of the COVID-19 pandemic, it made sense for businesses to adapt and adopt work from home policy to safeguard their workforce without hurting the business. It not only helped in flattening the curve, but also ensured some aspects of the economy, both at home and aboard, kept going. One the benefits of this new normal was the flexibility it offered, improved productivity, increased time management and gave freedom for work and life balance.
However, remote networking for work was already happening around the world. With France implementing strict office hour rules, Scandinavian countries experimenting with 4-days work week, the current pandemic put such efforts in the forefront. Over the last 10 years in the US, there has been 91% increase in remote working, representing 3.4% national workforce. Use of technology has also increased during this time, but there has now come a sense that an indefinite work from home set up may not be feasible in the long-run.
Under the new normal for businesses, along with maintaining social and physical distancing, it is now the right time to revaluate office hours with possible rotation in the form of working from home and from the office space. However, sticking to just working from home may not be productive. Here are 6 points for the value employees place on working from an office space for the company and the culture:
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Lack of Human Connection Can Be Detrimental
Work from home has enabled technology to come to the rescue, from video calls to hosting webinars as events. However, according to a report by Virgin, 84% employees prefer in-person meeting and it makes sense. When interacting with a client, a video call may not attract the finer body language that one can notice while dealing with them face-to-face. Plus being in an office space allows for the flow of ideas and creativity, improves social skills with fellow colleagues and get tasks done quickly.
Time Management Becomes Difficult
Human beings are used to routines. The current scenario has displaced that sense of routine and replaced it with a new style of working. However, in the long run, employees might have high burn out rates if they do not address working hours according to their normal day. Being in an office environment, one is able to make sense of time, be punctual and leave for home at their designated hour. WFH disrupts that process, while a highly energised employee might log in much before business hours, that same employee may end up working much late into the evening. Such action on a regular basis will not only affect his/her downtime but also productivity.
Home and Professional Imbalance
One of the benefits of working from home is the sense of work life balance. However, during the lockdown it was observed that in many cases, this sense of balance was short-lived. The distraction of working from home is real and can impede the productivity of an employee. From washing dishes to attending to laundry, looking after children, plus working on a presentation for a client pitch can bog down an employee. Even with lockdown being lifted and kids going to school, other household duties can affect the focus and input needed for a successful outcome for any businesses.
Technology Is Not Always Friendly
Every office or workplace today is technologically enabled to assist and ease businesses and employees in conducting their duties and performance. Often many such operations have specialised software and products that can be used from a workplace. Such limitations can pose a problem for individuals to work from home. As everything is available in the office, chances are even a simple tool such as a printer may not be available at home (plus not to mention the costs of purchasing paper and inks). In some areas, issues relating to electricity and internet connection can also pose problems in the long run for employees to work efficiently.
Office Culture Is Important For Growth
As stated before, remote workplace can often be a lonely experience. The novelty of working from home wears off after a while and it starts to affect productivity and the business. Workplace culture becomes an important aspect of dealing with stress and anxiety, it allows for people to collaborate, network and grow themselves. The ability to learn new concepts and upskilling gets restricted.
With the lockdown being eased across many parts of the world, businesses still need to adopt to the new normal, ensure worker safety and maintaining physical distancing till a cure for COVID-19 is found. This is also a great time to experiment with workplace settings and work environment. However, restricting your employees to working from home on an indefinite period might stagnate their growth which can affect business output.