Remote Or Bust
Remote working has become a significant part of the lives of most “office” workers since the start of the pandemic. In the early days, when restrictions were still extremely high, many employers spent sleepless nights wondering how they would keep their company running in a way that would keep employees safe while still allowing them their regular amount of productivity. As it became clear that our situation was not going to change any time soon, employers worldwide were forced to adopt a policy that they had long rejected (in most cases); working from home. Plans were drawn up, UPSs and laptops were purchased at significant cost to companies, and the great exodus was complete. Bosses twisted their fingers and tried to ignore the gnawing panic in their stomach at the question of whether or not it would work and whether their employees would begin to enjoy working from home “too much”. But as things progressed, it became clear, in most cases, that whether employers like it or not, remote work was here to stay.
As we have moved through the various alert and restriction levels and into a way of life that feels a little bit less police state and a tiny bit more like it used to be, there have been many heated discussions between employers and employees about returning to the office. For those who wish to avoid a sedentary lifestyle, getting up and dressed and leaving the house is a joy. For those who feel at their most comfortable and productive at home, it’s their own personal nightmare. Let’s take a look at the experts’ predictions for remote work as we move into a new year.
Is Remote Work The Future?
In a word, yes. It has been clear that in the vast majority of cases, employees have maintained, if not exceeded, their old levels of productivity when working from home. There are, of course, exceptions to the rule and exceptions to be made for teething phases. On the whole, however, bosses have been surprised by how well employees do and feel when working in a more comfortable environment. There are, of course, the dinosaur employers who wish to have their workforce under surveillance at all times and will attempt to herd them back to an office environment regardless of the numbers. These bosses believe that an hour not looking over the shoulder of an employee is an hour lost, and hopefully, before long, we will see them all bow to the unstoppable weight of progress and admit that their employees can do their jobs without being supervised 24/7.
Initially, remote work was sure to have cost most employers a pretty penny to set up, which is not ideal for the bottom line of any company. However, the pro’s for bosses far outweigh the cons. Now that most workforces are set up to operate remotely, at least for the majority of the workweek, employers can look at cutting down on the size of their premises, reducing monthly overheads significantly. Hot desks have become the new cubicles, and workspaces are much smaller than they were two years ago. By now, employers have developed tools for monitoring productivity and most, hopefully, have let go of the idea of asking employees to have their cameras on and remain chained to their desk (even if their work is complete) like they would in an office. Employee happiness should be of paramount concern to any employer, and we are seeing many employees who are not happy with antiquated micromanagement policies fleeing these toxic environments for more progressive ones.
Decentralization of work means less time spent on public transport or in the car, stuck in traffic jams wasting hours of your life that you’ll never get back. It means fewer cars on the road in general (hooray for fewer carbon emissions) and money saved on fuel or transport costs that can go to enhancing the quality of life. While working from home is not for every person, the vast majority are for it. Routine may be required for some, while others may be comfortable with a more relaxed schedule, but these are things that you figure out over time. Things that were all stacked up for the weekend, when employees should be resting, such as laundry and easy errands, can now be done between tasks, as long as the tasks are completed on time and with great attention to detail. Dinner can now be cooked before nine at night, allowing employees more time to de-stress and actually enjoy their lives during the week. Happier employees do better work, which is better for employers and their bottom line. Remember, the work week that we currently have was designed in the fifties, when every home had a dedicated stay-at-home mother or wife to look after things like cleaning, cooking, errands, and general household maintenance. The idea that a single person or two working individuals should be able to get all their work done well and live a fulfilling life while being out five days a week from six in the morning to six in the evening in some cases is laughable.
Get on the WFH train or get left behind. The future is remote, and it’s time for employers and employees to come together on a more even footing to make it work well for both parties.