Whilst some businesses continue to work from home, many are making the decision to return to the workplace.
Well, it’s not easy managing a team working remotely – catching up on where things are at, the plan for the week ahead, discussing targets, achievements, problems staff may have, assessing general morale and well-being…… the list goes on.
What about the employees?
Employees initially are receptive to home working, what’s not to like – longer in bed as no commute, dress down day every day and according to recent reports, productivity can be boosted when working from home:
• 65% of workers said they would be more productive in a home office than a normal office
• 75% of workers say they will be more productive due to reduced distractions
• 83% of employees feel they do not need an office to be productive
• Two-thirds of employers report increased productivity for remote workers compared to in-office workers
Whilst home working can be effective for many, it’s not for all. An LSE study of more than 500 staff and managers on the effects of home working found that many of the positives diminished over time. Ultimately, home based employees began behaving no differently to office based staff and had no better results.
What at first seems a good idea can change for the individual as the following problems have been identified:
• 30.9% of remote workers say that they struggle with loneliness when working remotely
• 22% say that “switching off” after work is their biggest challenge
• 62% of remote workers want employers to provide better technology that helps them stay connected with their colleagues
What is the reality?
Research found that there was poor communication with colleagues (I have experienced endless emails from multiple people which would be a 5 minutes conversation in the office environment), team or zoom meetings with the connection breaking or freezing are frustrating. Feeling isolated, having a lack of professional support, no face to face interactions are all negatives that employees have experienced – not good for productivity and not good for the mental health of the individual.
Following this research, major corporations such as IBM and Yahoo reversed remote-working policies (pre pandemic)
Part of the issue with working from home is that it doesn’t fundamentally change human psychology. If you are an unproductive person in the office, then it’s unlikely to change when you work from home – where there are plenty of other distractions, whether it’s the TV, household chores, noisy family members (children don’t understand that Mummy or Daddy cannot play as they need to work), the dog barking at the postman whilst you are on that zoom meeting or the lure of the fridge. You still need tactics and strategies in place to help you work effectively.
Therefore, more business Owners/Managers are deciding to return to the workplace ……….. but a different workplace. There are many changes to this ‘new normal’ we are all experiencing and will continue to experience. From the design and layout of the workspace to the facilities and services available, physical and operational changes.
Workspaces will look different, navigating around them may have altered, teams may split to work different hours or days, operational aspects and procedures/protocols will be different – new approaches that not only keeps people safe but that also makes people feel safe by building their trust and confidence.
At DBS, whilst we can control directly what is within and happens in our offices, meeting rooms and accommodation, it is important to remember that our clients, visitors and guests are individuals with different commutes, health risk levels, anxieties, family situations etc and we have clients from diverse companies with their own corporate programmes, policies and protocols they need to incorporate. In our workspace, we can take these factors into consideration.
Many large companies are moving away from city based workspace – consider the risks – commuting by public transport, office blocks, hundreds of commuters, thousands of touch points, air con which is known to circulate Coronavirus through a room. But do not want to have remote workers.
The ideal is to have satellite offices – not one big head office but a collection of smaller offices, local to the Managers/Directors home where they can set up a regional base. Smaller – yes, less efficient or prestigious – no, safer – definitely.
At DBS centres in the East Midlands, there are excellent transport links but you can drive to them too, park (free!), have windows to open and get fresh air, have outdoor space to sit at, have indoor space to use and have all the requirements for an excellent business base.
Being in an industry whose strength is in meeting varied workplace needs at scale, we’re well positioned to rise to this new challenge. By leveraging our collective expertise, we can protect the livelihoods of millions and take the lead in demonstrating what successful, safe workplace operations look like .