The Work from Home Debate
Since the start of the Covid pandemic, working from home has soared. Many companies, where possible have had to overcome and adapt to allow their employees to work from home in line with government advice.
But as we start to return to normal or as cases start to increase again, there is a demand from many employees to be able to remain working from home. But what’s the best way to deal with this?
The working from home debate is a complex one full of evidence for and against and unique reasons why particular companies and individuals could either benefit or suffer – there is no one-size-fits-all answer.
Evidence on Both Sides
On one side of the fence, there are some that believe the non-office solution is the only viable approach and on the other side, there are those who are completely against the idea of not coming back into work. The place of work for ALL employees is the workplace. If they are not there, then they will be the ones who suffer and there could be some truth to this.
Working from home has been on large corporate agendas for the best part of the last 50 years and whilst this is nothing new, Covid has brought it to the forefront of people’s minds, accelerating the process. Which actually means, that there is loads of research on the topic.
Allowing employees to work from home (WFH) makes a lot of sense at first glance. Organisations can reduce real estate costs, better compete for global talent, and increase overall productivity. On the flip side, reports have shown that people can become isolated both socially and professionally. Even with regular video call check-ins, managers may miss crucial signs of burnout or team dysfunction and WFH can easily translate to living at work.
The WFH Answer
So what is the answer? The best result is what works best for the company and each individual employee. A hybrid model of full-flex time based on employee choice is often as close to good enough. Allowing people the freedom to leave earlier, come to work later or not at all is almost irrelevant as long as they perform to the standard expected and the work is being done, appointments are being met – then does it really matter? Of course it can make office planning more tricky and can lead to silos forming between office in-groups and office out-groups.
The only other thing to consider, is how to manage those that really do need to be in the office vs those that can do their entire role at home and how to keep this fair and ultimately this will come down to having fair and reasonable conversations to ensure everyone feels that are being treated the same.