It seems you cannot open your newsfeed or social media these days without reading about working from home and the benefits of remote working – even health food shops are jumping on the bandwagon to offer advice on how to exercise and eat right while you’re isolating at home!
From what I can see, there are a few arguments in favour of remote working:
Firstly, you’re already using technology to communicate with clients, colleagues and suppliers. Whether it’s email, mobile, social, live chat or other, you can pretty much keep in touch with all the people you’re involved with in a work situation – without having to meet face to face. You can now digitally sign contracts and other documents and that digital signature meets legal requirements. I remember not so long ago, some were saying that colleagues working in the same office would not get up to actually talk to each other (apart from the water cooler chats and kitchen brew time gossip ..!) instead, they were communicating via email or social media
Then, it’s better for the environment. Surely, less commuting means less pollution; we’ve already seen that in big cities that have seen their overall level of air pollution plummet over the past few weeks. No need to drive up and down the country for meetings either; online meetings have become the norm (thank you Zoom!). It’ll be cheaper for you in the long run, you won’t need to fill up the car twice a week – and less temptation to spend on those outpriced macchiato-frappucino-with-a-hint-of-hazelnut-whatever happened to good old fashioned coffee – or takeaway lunches 😊 And while we’re on the subject of saving money, you won’t need to keep 2 separate wardrobes; one for work clothes and one for casual / lounge wear… you’ll be able to recycle half your closet! 😊 😊
You can also make the most of your “working time” because you’ll have less interruptions (as long as you can afford a dedicated work space free of distractions) and to some extent, you can choose the hours when you are the most productive – for some, it’s at the crack of dawn; others work better later in the day. Also likely that those never ending sales and team meetings will be replaced by much shorter, more to the point online meetings – thus allowing you to get on with the rest of your (working!) day
Having most of their staff working remotely will save businesses a lot on renting premium office spaces in large cities and the cost of maintaining / heating / lighting etc. those empty offices at weekends – that’s in addition to savings on rates, insurance, security and other building services. Maybe those companies will pass on some of those savings to their remote workers in the form of subsidised high-speed internet or home working equipment (laptop, printer, scanner etc.)
Last but not least, you’ll have more “me” time to spend with your family / friends / pets / exercising / hobbies / relaxing – doing whatever you really want to do, rather than sitting in the car commuting between home and work, stuck in traffic jams (I don’t know if it’s got any better but almost 6 hours on the M6 on a Friday afternoon was never my idea of fun!). And if you organise your workday well, prioritise your tasks and make the most of your “productive” time, you might even free up more time to do your own thing
I appreciate home working is not suited to all jobs – and doesn’t suit everyone; some of us need the hustle-and-bustle of a busy office. You’ll still need to keep in touch with everyone – including regular networking with colleagues and peers as well as quality time with friends and family, so you don’t feel isolated. Sticking to set working hours is important; you need to keep your work life balance right – and follow the good advice about eating well and staying active. From a business perspective, remote working needs to operate on a trust basis between employer and employee; you have to be motivated to make it work and your employer needs to trust you to deliver the “goods”. And finally, you’ll need the right set up in terms of information security and data protection, hopefully with the help and support from your company’s IT department
These are just a few quick thoughts on the subject and I’m sure there are many other factors – for or against it – to take into consideration. What do you think? Does WFH have a future or will we all get back to our offices after the pandemic?