Working After the Coronavirus Pandemic- Should Employees Return to the Office or is Working From Home Here to Stay?

As this week marks a year since the first Coronavirus lockdown in the UK, today’s blog will look at how policies implemented during the pandemic may be incorporated into our working lives for good. Specifically, this blog will look at working from home vs. returning to the office.

Image: Royalty Free.

Although working from home is not a new concept, it is definitely one which has been championed by employers – pre-Coronavirus, some of these employers may not have ever considered remote working. In many ways working from home has, despite its challenges, brought about many benefits, and crucially, it has enabled work to continue in sectors which would have stopped if the technology and ability to work from home was not available. As we are easing out of the current lockdown we are in, questions have started to arise regarding the future of working- especially in sectors such as public relations, which has been able to quickly adapt to online working and working from home. Will we return to an office environment, or will the uptake in working from home take precedent?

Interestingly, this has been explored by building society Nationwide, who announced they would be implementing a ‘flexibility’ scheme, whereby employees can effectively choose where they would like to work- whether that be in the head office, in local Nationwide branches or from home. This scheme was implemented after a staff survey highlighted that 57% of the workforce wanted to work from home full-time permanently, and 36% of the workforce stated they would like a mixture of remote and office-based working. I think this is quite a bold from Nationwide, as it encourages employees to choose where they would be best suited to work- after all, we are all different in how we work, and in what working environments we like. This is an important step in recognising the needs of the employee- and ultimately, a scheme like this is only going to help Nationwide have a more efficient, happier workforce who get the job done in a comfortable working environment. The addition of choice also does not disadvantage those who prefer other working environments- for some, working from home will happily be a thing of the past once working in offices is permitted across industries, however for others, working from home has suited them better and made them more productive as a result. From my point of view, working from home has definitely got its pros and cons. Although I have adapted to this new way of working and do enjoy working from home, I am equally looking forward to getting back into the workplace setting, with the ease of chatting face-to-face with colleagues about work-related issues.

Image: Glass Door.

After Nationwide’s announcement earlier today, it begs the question, should employees’ place of work matter? Personally, I think this is quite a tricky question to answer- if teams of colleagues are split across different workplaces, will the team-spirit get lost? This pandemic has shown how we can adapt to communicate and keep in contact over digital means, however I would still argue that you cannot beat face-to-face discussions- especially when discussing work-related issues, brainstorming ideas or pitching and presenting as a group. Evidently, across the banking industry and beyond, it seems as though they do not see an employees’ place of work as an issue. HSBC, Lloyds Bank, British Airways and BP are just a few organisations who are implementing either partial work from home arrangements (BP) or a full move to flexible working conditions.

So, is working from home here to stay beyond the pandemic? Although many are itching to get back into social working environments, it is evident that working from home has been successful from both an employer and employee perspective- this is evident with the number of organisations considering and implementing strategies to move to remote working permanently. As we are still in an uncertain situation, it is still difficult to say what will happen in the future regarding working environments, however the Coronavirus pandemic has shown that we are able to adapt to working in many different ways. Where would you prefer to work- are you excited to get back into a social office environment or are you happily settled into working from home? Thank you for reading!

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