The future of office life is likely to be changed dramatically by the impact of COVID-19. The most immediate change has been the overnight implementation of remote working across a wide variety of sectors.
The future of office life is likely to be changed dramatically by the impact of COVID-19. The most immediate change has been the overnight implementation of remote working across a wide variety of sectors. Before the outbreak of COVID-19, remote working was already very much on the rise. Research by Global Workforce Analytics suggests that in the US where most data is available, regular work-at-home has grown 173% since 2005, 56% of employees have a job where at least some of what they do could be done remotely, and crucially, 80% of employees want to work from home at least some of the time. Now, even companies that have traditionally been reluctant to embrace working from home have had to introduce it – and at short notice. Necessity has been the mother of invention as a result of COVID-19, with companies forced to adapt and find creative new ways of doing things – but companies now operating on a remote basis have started planning for the longer term, and what happens when the crisis passes.
HR teams have started drafting formal remote working policies; managers are thinking about how they can help their team achieve their goals from a distance, and Operations and IT teams have invested in infrastructure which will be needed to make remote working viable long term.
Benefits for your organisation
There may be benefits for the company as well as your employees when it comes to implementing a working from home policy.
The ability to offer some flexibility in this regard can be important to your employer branding. Millennials and Gen Z in particular regard remote working as part and parcel of a modern workplace.
A working from home policy can save your company money. Office space is a huge cost for businesses, so allowing employees to work from home occasionally can mean that you don’t need to move to a bigger space with bigger overheads as the company grows.
Green credentials are increasingly important to both employees and customers. With fewer people commuting and a smaller office space, your company can boast its commitment to lowering emissions and being environmentally friendly.
How to create an effective working from home policy
Once the COVID-19 crisis is over, you’ll need to decide how much working from home is going to continue, and on what basis. If it’s new for your organisation, the likelihood is your employees will expect to be able to continue working from home at least some of the time if it worked during the crisis.
Working with senior management, HR, and ideally with input from your employees you’ll need to consider the following for a working from home policy:
How often are employees expected to be in the office?
What expenses can those working from home expect to be reimbursed for?
How are you going to manage data security for remote workers?
How will those working from home communicate with their managers?
What KPIs will be in place, and how will performance management happen?
It’s crucial to manage expectations from the beginning and to be clear about how the company sees the policy working.
For companies that rapidly implement working from home as a result of COVID-19, it is likely that there have been bumps along the way. That’s normal and to be expected. Considering the demographic of the workforce and current trial run we are likely to see a further shift towards remote working after the current crisis.
It’s the ideal time to try out some of these technologies while planning a long-term strategy. Get team members at all levels involved in the feedback process and see what needs to be tweaked, and where you need to pivot.