This is an interesting question but there’s no clear “Yes” or “No” answer. In my view, some companies will have had a reasonable, even good, experience of working from home while others will view it as having been a disaster.
Some companies will look to get all their staff back in the office as soon as they can and some are doing this even now. Some have insisted their workers go to work throughout the pandemic.
Others will think that working from home was quite successful and that they want to continue with it. They may be motivated by possible economies e.g. if you don’t need people to work in an office then maybe you don’t need so much office space, if your people work from home then maybe you don’t need to pay so much for utilities or parking spaces or an office canteen. Others may think that, if they own their office space but don’t need so much of it, then maybe they could convert some office space into accommodation which they could then rent out to people desperate for a place to stay in or near a city centre.
So there won’t be a fixed approach by all organisations. How companies react once (if ?) we have an effective vaccine will depend on the company’s experience.
My own opinion is that something in between working from home and working in an office is probably optimum. In other words, work from home 2 or 3 days a week and the other days, work in the office. I say this because if there’s one thing you need if you want working from home to be a success, then it is to have a strong relationship and rapport with your other colleagues. You’ll need to be able to trust them to collaborate with you, and they’ll need the same from you, when you’re both at home. Without this rapport, we will all become isolated and ineffective. But with it, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be just as effective as when we work in an office.
The practicality of working from home depends of the company culture, HR practices, nature of the job one does and infrastructure maturity. For instance I am in South Africa where constant power disruptions sometimes makes going to the office more viable where one can utilise UPS or alternate power source. Based on the country it can quickly become a data cost which boils down to whether companies subsidise data costs or those are handled by the employee. There are lots of factors which make it differ from region to region.
It will definitely change.
Demand for office space in trad. way will decrease, office on demand will grow and office infrastructure will be more sophisticated.
Possibly as already in the 80ties done for Sales staff, you have your “office-container” locked in the cabinet and just picked up on demand entering a free desk.
Frankly any company that wants to spend a fortune renting offices and then forcing their employees to spend hours a day commuting, potentially even risking their lives in doing so, is pathetic. Unfortunately I believe that most companies have brain dead middle management who measure the size of their penis by the number of slaves outside their office door and the upper management are too busy at the golf course to give a damn. So unfortunately we will go back to destroying the planet with CO2 emitting cars (whether burning fuel themselves or using batteries and remotely generated power), covering the countryside with office blocks which need heating in winter and cooling in summer and lighting the whole year round, and splodging roads and car parks all over what could be food generating land. Just look at Cambridge… people stuck for hours a day on the A14 to park in the ice and snow all winter on prime farmland to enter oxygen free hermetically sealed offices. Just because apparently we cant work as a team in different places, although of course we can work perfectly well with that team of cheap Bangalore engineers in a different time zone! At the moment working over 2000 miles from head office with a team geographically spread all over Germany and Sweden, we screen share, web cam and deliver. We eat better (no canteen muck) get home earlier (no traffic jam) and dont die sliding around all over icy roads all winter in jams with thousands of others. Still the office is still there and we are going to be forced back into it.
On my point of view, I think it’s a “YES/NO” but, probably, it will remain as is. Most of the establishment owners will also do their best to cope up with their loses since other tenants were already moved out. Even though COVID-19 will fade away, we cannot deny the fact that investor’s clients’ were also gone as they were also affected by the pandemic.
Working from home let the company save expenses. I believe Ian has the point that employees must work 2 days in the office and 3 days at home.
I think we will face both backs to the office and work from home modes operating side by side in the future. No doubt, the restriction to meet in person opened a gate for various different opportunities. Even high personal touch b2b businesses developed new ways of contacting their customers and partners. I believe that people realized that you can save a lot of time and money and still make business. Ofcause, virtual communication is not one to one alternative to f2f communication. I believe, in the future, the element of time-saving will define the character of communication. Many discussions and meetings will be virtual and working from home will be an integral part of our business behaviour.
In Western economies, the acceleration of home working due to Covid will be transient and the effects reversed within a few months of the risks of endemic Covid becoming manageable.
Why? (1) Most knowledge worker jobs that can be safely done at home are already done at home, should the job holder wish; (2) a large tranche of clerical/contact centre lower skilled jobs cannot be done at the levels of productivity and data security achievable in office-based working operating models. And, (3) there are jobs where relationships and personal trust require face to face contact. advisor
That said, in the technology will deal with point (3), and a long term tend will continue for corporate cost reduction by enforcing homeworking into people’s houses, be they large or small.
But imagine doing a boring job, stuck in a small apartment for sixteen hours a day. Not for me.
Point (2) not (3)
After COVID-19 fades away the investment on the premises and physical locations will and must change forever.This pandemic has made businesses rethink whether the physical space is really critical and necessary. Businesses have had the opportunity to review the ‘normal’ that we have embraced for decades i.e. the need for employees to be physically present in the office space. My observations, even call centers/ customer touch points relocated to work from home arrangements. We have always held the notion that we must ‘‘see’’ our employees for them to deliver. COVID -19 has proved us wrong. The need for supervision of employees is another aspect business needs to reconsider. I would be keen to see data of employees who did not deliver on their KPIs due to their work from home engagement. Do businesses need to invest in expensive rent paid for premises? Probably not. The physical presence of employees in the work space does expense businesses a great deal. The internet, rent, stationery,unnecessary printing, tea/coffee, water, etc…Businesses will save a great deal, employees are more productive due to work/life balance, a less stressful environment, curbed absenteeism, reduced risk management to the business…the benefits of work from home clearly outweigh the need for physical locations and premises for business. This must and will change forever.
Post covid ways of working will definitely be different from Pre covid. How much? That will largely depend on the duration of the pandemic. Generally, businesses which are digitally mature will use their adaptability as a competitive advantage. Those will realise that the ways of working during the pandemic can bring something new - a new model which brings results. On the other hand, businesses which were very far behind in terms of digitalization will struggle even more. Business offices will more and more become a meeting place rather than a desk based workspace. You will have more facilities to support team work and less to support individual work. Deep focused work can be done from home for 2 /3 days a week. Meetings can take place on the other two.
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