This blog post is very much my own take on the advantages and disadvantages that this new way of working has imposed on our way of lives.
Working from home, until fairly recently (coronavirus), seemed to be a benefit that, at least in my mind, could only be afforded by higher ups in a company.
Although the invention of online communication came in the ‘70s, our work-lives seem to have lagged behind the digital revolution, with the need for our physical presence in an office continuing to not be questioned until very recently... and that’s only because we’ve been forced to consider alternative work methods! What is even more shocking, is that even though we’ve been subjected to globalisation for decades now, global companies are being hailed as pioneers of tech and business for announcing the broadening of their talent pool from national to global due to advancements in our online technologies.
Haven’t we been able to do this for decades?
So, why as a society have we only just started to think about working from home models?
In one, very overused, now clichéd, term - COVID.
Without boring you with more facts and figures with how many people were sent to domestic settings to work – it was a lot.
What seemed to shock most employers was how well employees took to the change in setting – swapping a desk for a couch, colleagues for family and your work landline for whatever daytime tv was on at the time – what’s not to love?!
Working from home has been the new normal for millions of workers across the UK for the last year upwards. This addition to our lives has seemed to be an added bonus for most, with more and more people opting to work from home in future roles. This new and improved work model has even made people quit their jobs, rather than returning to the office full-time, in the hope that they can secure a full-time remote role.
So, what makes it so popular?
In the UK, the average commute to work is around 50-60 minutes – although that may be boosted through the average London commute, that is still an obscene amount of time to be travelling each way to work. Two hours per day, 10 hours per week, around 40 hours per month – basically an entire working weeks’ worth of hours, just spent on your commute! It goes without saying that we can all think of better ways to spend our time than driving or using public transport. If you could save up to 40 hours of your month (on average) - giving you more time with your family, friends and just more personal time in general, why wouldn’t you?
Rachel, 23, works as an HR & Training Administrator in Liverpool, where she’s from. Rachel tells me that prior to the pandemic, her working week took place solely within the office. Like many of us, Rachel’s work-life balance has been turned on its head. Rachel has swapped a desk for a lounge chair, colleagues for family members and opened herself up to a world of distractions in her Merseyside home.
Although there are plenty of distractions within her own home, Rachel confesses that the office distractions are even more disruptive in comparison. “I’ve found that since working from home, office life may be harder to adapt back to. People talking, phone’s ringing, people coming in and out, even the radio blaring is enough to distract me now.” This increased susceptibility to everyday distractions has left Rachel preferring a home-based position.
One aspect of our new working lives that has proven challenging for some is our work routine. It seems as though the regular 9-5 working hours have become null as we are now able to pick and choose when we take breaks, take lunch and start/finish the day. This new, flexible work day has further blurred the lines between our work and home lives, leaving a lot to be desired in terms of a real work routine. Rachel explains that she works late almost every night, “I would never have done this pre-covid, it’s like my life’s been turned upside-down." For many, this blurring of a work-life balance has meant that instead of finishing at or around your standard 5pm, a lot of us are still doing payroll while watching Coronation Street.
From an employer’s perspective, remote working is a tricky one. If you have trust in your workforce, methods of ensuring productivity etc. working from home is a fantastic bonus to offer your staff or prospective employees – on the note of prospective employees, having either a hybrid or entirely remote work model, gives the impression that you’re a progressive, ‘ahead of the curve,’ type company – it’s definitely seen more and more as a bonus as this development progresses.
The broadening of an employer’s talent pool is also a huge benefit of remote working. Samsung have recently announced that due to their new model, which incorporates their working from home status, they’ll be broadening their talent search worldwide – specifically to the states and Asia, it will allow them to pick up the best of the best worldwide, all through the power of the internet.
“Miscommunication is one of the major causes of inefficiency in the workplace. Many of these issues can be attributed to digital communications and the various ways they can be interpreted.”
Although there are clear benefits to boosting your reach in terms of a talent pool, the new model poses some negatives. Although you will be able to recruit people worldwide, you’ll never be able to meet them face-to-face, only through a screen. As with any digital communication, sometimes things may be lost in translation, you may be unable to effectively communicate instructions or help in a truly constructive manner.
I could continue down this road all day. Whether or not the positives outweigh the negatives entirely depends on yours and your company’s situation. For example, if you work in retail, the working from home model is entirely implausible, but if you work in communications, the model may be more appealing.
Whatever you decide to do, a balance being struck between productivity and happiness of your staff is imperative.