There’s no doubt that attitudes towards the ?traditional office have changed. As employees have proven during this unintentional mass home working experiment, they are capable of working effectively from a remote location, with some companies even experiencing a rise in productivity throughout this period.
This has led many businesses to revaluate the purpose of their office space, with some suggesting that they are now faced with home working being presented as an expectation as opposed to a privilege, which for certain employees is carrying similar weight to the allure of a benefits package.
HR Consultant, Tahlia Morton of The Spectra Group shares her views on what this may mean for the future workplace.
Embracing home working
It’s obvious to see why home working has gained the favour of many over this past year, with benefits such as:
- Reduced overhead costs for companies
- Better work-life balance for those juggling young families
- Workers benefitting from ditching the rigmarole of the daily commute to and from the office
All of which have had a positive effect on business efficiencies, as employees have been able to work longer hours, felt less stressed, and have not been limited by a rigid work structure, all whilst benefitting from that much needed extra cash they would have previously used to cover travel costs!
On this basis it is evident that home working is here to stay in some capacity. But if it’s so great, why aren?t we all packing up and bidding farewell to our offices forever?
The simple truth is that whilst the prospect of working from home might now seem like our shiny new toy, not everyone has adapted to this new way of life quite so seamlessly.
Despite many businesses seeing rises in productivity and assumed improvement in work/life balance during periods of home working, studies show that employees are, in some cases, overworking themselves.
Employees are feeling pressured to work endless hours for reasons such as:
- fear of impending redundancies;
- inability to escape the workplace;
- being unable to access support from colleagues;
- fearing company spot checks
- and more.
This is having a negative impact not only on their mental state but also on their physical wellbeing, with many employees burning themselves out.
Moreover, as humans we seek face-to-face interaction. Working, building, and maintaining relationships via screens is proving more difficult for some, and is taking its toll on some people’s mental wellbeing.
It’s also becoming trickier for businesses to uphold and convey their corporate cultures. In some cases, new recruits have never stepped foot in their office or have met their team to gain that all-important “Company know how?.
?Whilst home working has presented itself as an effective short-term fix during an unprecedented time, the long-term effects of maintaining this approach to work, is set to have devastating effects on employee wellbeing.
Finding a working balance
There is clearly still a place in the corporate world for offices. However, their purpose has now changed.
Attitudes have changed and employees have become aware that they are able to work remotely, and now believe that they should attend the office for a reason – a team meeting, for example.
For this reason, many businesses have introduced the idea of hybrid working, which allows employees to work part the week from home to cover individual projects and admin-based work, and the rest of the week in the office to complete team projects and to catch up with colleagues.
This concept has been received well as a happy medium by employees, who see this as a positive step in maintaining control of their work/life balance whilst keeping physical contact with their organisation.