Is home working here to stay?

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Monday, August 16, 2021

Now we have passed Freedom Day, many employers continue to enable home working, either for the short to medium term or possibly indefinitely.

A study by the Institute of Directors shows 74% of businesses plan to continue increasing the uptake of home working by their employees and reducing the long-term use of workplaces. Home working has also been shown to boost productivity, improve work-life balance and can help companies cut their overheads.

Workers favour flexibility

Even before the pandemic, we were trending towards more flexible working models with employees desiring flexibility, autonomy, and an improved work-life balance.

But in today’s tough talent market, your business will be overlooked by top candidates if you cannot offer them the flexibility they want. In fact, a recent study by McKinsey found that more than a quarter of those surveyed said they would consider switching employers if they were forced to return to the office.

Diverse and dispersed teams

One incentive for businesses to continue with remote working is the ability to tap into diverse and geographically spread out talent. When looking to fill a position you are no longer limited by your town, or even your country, with home working enabling companies to have their workers spread out across the globe.

Home working can also encourage workers that may have difficulty commuting to an office every day, such as parents with young children or individuals with mobility issues such as older workers, to participate in the workforce.

Investing big in cloud technology

Many big technology firms are banking on long-term home working and investing in cloud-based infrastructure. Video conferencing platform of choice during the pandemic, Zoom, has bet big on the future of hybrid working. The company recently entered into a multibillion-dollar deal to buy cloud-based call centre operator Five9.

The downsides of home working

At this point, you may be thinking that the adoption of home working is a no-brainer. However, there are a number of challenges that come with it.

Working from home can cause some employees to lose contact with their colleagues and feel isolated, leading to stress and depression. If the right technology is not in place to support collaboration, it can also lead to some workers not knowing what is going on, resulting in missed deadlines and reduced productivity.

There are also concerns about overworking due to workers finding it difficult to keep their work and home life separate when their office is their home. A recent poll of remote workers in the UK found almost one-fifth are working at least four extra unpaid hours per week. To combat this, the EU recently adopted ‘the right to disconnect’ — a worker’s right to disengage from work and their work-related communications such as emails during non-work hours.

Is home working the future of work?

Because of its many benefits, home working is here to stay provided that businesses address the challenges mentioned above. It will also be important for leaders to listen to what their employees want, for example, allowing workers who want to come into the office to do so.