Remote Working and how it will improve the future
Barry Prost, Managing Partner, Yala
According to a recent IBEC survey, 95% of employees want to work from home for some or all of the time after the crisis. It’s generally accepted by both employers and employees that Remote Working or Working From Home is here to stay and in the future. This will affect the future of working from home and also the future of working as a whole.
There are 3 issues for companies to consider as we approach the return or part-return of office life:
1: Companies need to reconcile the differences between management and employee expectations. According to a recent PWC report:
2: Employees want to return to the office more slowly than employers expect.
- 3: Employees expect 2 days a week in the office / Employers expect 3 days.
Our own internal talent survey suggests that 80% of staff are either “comfortable” or “very comfortable” about returning to the office for 2-3 days per week.
-Reintegrating back into the workforce – there are 3 main concerns here:
1: Readjusting to Office Life. We are ‘creatures of habit’ and we have all gotten used to working from home over the past 1.5 years. Shifting back to office life will be a significant change for people to have to manage.
2: Social Distancing. There are concerns around safety and being able to be socially distanced in the office. Many employers are considering solutions such as increasing the space between workstations, installing screens between desks and enhanced air conditioning systems. The HSE in the UK recommends maximising the fresh air in the office by natural or mechanical ventilation using fans and ducts to bring in fresh air from outside, or a combination of both.
-The Commute is among people’s biggest concerns. To deal with this issue – companies can consider staggering starting and finishing times. So, for example, to avoid rush hour traffic – start times could be pushed to 10 am.
-According to IBEC s survey, almost 50% of Employers feel it’s more difficult to manage a team remotely. It is challenging to get a sense of how people are feeling or to ‘read the room’ over Zoom. There is a lack of informal communication and managers lose the invaluable tool of ‘managing by walking around. Remote working hinders teams’ ability to solve complex problems due to problems with collaborating and communicating virtually.
Communication is critical to resolving these issues and we recommend companies to open up a dialogue with staff via town hall meetings or surveys or both.
There is some good news from the recent studies which suggests that there is alignment around productivity:
-Most people feel more productive at home.
-over 50% of Employers believe that productivity improved over a prolonged work-from-home period.
From our own survey – over 60% of our team believed they were more productive at home primarily due to fewer distractions and the lack of commute. But they also missed the face-to-face interactions with their colleagues in the office.
Employers feel to keep a strong culture, employees should be in the office. KPMG has announced their 4 day fortnight where employees can choose any 4 days to come to the office to work.
Of course not all sectors are lucky enough to even have this discussion, but where remote working can be facilitated, we are entering a period where decisions need to made about what the working week will look like, what types of office space will be needed and what supports & infrastructure need to be put in place, in the long term, for companies and employees to benefit from a hybrid office/home environment.