How has Covid-19 made employers more tolerant towards home working?
Throughout the course of 2020, there has been a huge amount of upheaval to all aspects of our daily lives, the majority of which was unprecedented. Never before had we seen public facilities closed on such a grand scale including schools, gyms, shops, restaurants and pubs. The most significant change aside from schools closing, however, was for the general workforce as we were all encouraged to work from home wherever possible. The change came virtually overnight and required a huge amount of adaptability from both the employer and the employee. Home offices were thrown together on dining room tables, corners of bedrooms were set up with the necessary technology and our WiFi was tested like never before.
Whilst the initial culture shock was rather large and posed a few teething issues, as time went on and we all settled into this new – albeit temporary at first – normal, the positives started to present themselves. Of course, being in the throes of a global pandemic meant there were some issues that couldn’t be overcome. But for the most part, benefits were realised for the company as much as the employee. Let’s take a look at the benefits which show just why Covid-19 has made employers much more tolerant to home-working:
- Improved productivity – it was often thought that working from home was a chance for employees to have a bit of a ‘skive’ and not perform their tasks as diligently as they might otherwise in an office environment. However, this has proven not to be the case. In fact, fewer distractions at home (once home schooling was no longer required, of course!) has enabled better concentration to complete projects more efficiently
- Better work-life balance – this could initially be seen as a benefit purely for the employee but the reality means that the workforce is happier and more engaged. No more wasted time commuting with the fatigue it brings, plus the ability to work a little more flexibly (eg later into the evening as an appointment needed to be carried out during the day) means that staff are generally far happier and able to do their jobs in a way that better suits them personally. This will certainly improve output, sickness levels, attrition rates and employee satisfaction overall
- Improved innovation – when comfortable in an office environment that has remained the same for years, staff often resist change and fear it. What the events of 2020 have shown us is that we are all able to adapt far better than we thought possible and change isn’t necessarily a bad, or scary thing! In fact, we have been forced into new ways of working which have facilitated improved communication and process efficiencies
- Reduced costs – reducing the number of permanent staff based in an office means that offices can be reduced in size, therefore saving huge amounts on overheads. From a commercial standpoint, this will help to improve profitability, especially supported by the improved productivity of the workforce who can work in a way that suits them better.
- No More Commute – need I say more?
It has taken a very challenging year to force this shift change, but through the difficulties, there have been definite positives which have rippled through all aspects of our lives. One such has been the improvement in working practices which benefit not just the employee, but the employer too. We anticipate that there will no be a complete return to life pre-Covid and that instead we will see employers continue to be more flexible when it comes to home-working staff.