Before the pandemic, working from home was seen as an additional benefit.
For many companies, the debate of whether or not to allow employees to work from home was in the “it’s too hard basket” to be even properly considered. Fast forward, and the pandemic has now forced companies to explore the world of working from home. This has become the new norm and is not even really considered as an additional benefit anymore.
With this change in the work dynamics, what happens when government restrictions ease and offices start opening up again?
Like any business decision, there are pros and cons to allowing your team to continue working from home.
Some of the factors worth considering include:
- The well-being of your employees
According to the Productivity Commission’s “Working from Home” research paper, there have been mixed studies showing an increase and a decrease in employee overall wellbeing.
Working from home has shown benefits such as increased exercise and time spent with family due to no commute time. However, there may be a decrease in the employee’s mental wellbeing where they experience loneliness and the feeling of isolation when away from the workplace. Employees also reported that it was more difficult for them to switch off when working from home, as there was no clear distinction between work and home. This is also a factor in employees being overworked.
- The productivity of your employees
There have been many discussions about whether employees are actually more productive working from home. Research has shown that there should be an increase in productivity with employees working from home as they have the ability to manage their workflow and have better control of their tasks. They are also able to focus more on their tasks as there are less interruptions compared to the office environment. On the other hand, it has been debated that there are actually more distractions from home, and due to the blur in the boundary between home and work, employees can begin to feel demotivated. Also, for roles that rely heavily on cross-collaboration, it was reported that there was a decrease in productivity.
- Workplace culture
In the world of the “instantaneous now”, working online has the opportunity for more instant responses. However, it can be difficult for genuine relationships to develop due to the decrease in social interaction. Social interactions contribute a significant portion to the workplace culture.
These are just some factors worth considering, and they barely scratch the surface. The key takeaway is there will be some employees who work better from home and some who just can’t wait to return to the office.
Either way, your business needs to be adaptable, and you need to work with your employees through this transition.
How do you do that?
- Assess the business requirements
– Can everyone work from home? Is it working at the moment? What are some of the pain points or wins in this situation?
– Can a hybrid model be implemented?
– What are the costs?
– What are the risks?
– How will you ensure that working from home strikes a good balance for both your business and your employees?
These are some of the tough questions that your business will need to work through to set a clear pathway for when government restrictions ease.
- Ask your employees what their expectations and needs are?
Survey your workforce and understand what is important to them. This data will speak volumes and help guide the business in planning for the next steps. This will also help shift your employee value proposition (EVP) and ensure it is actually aligned.
- Next steps
After assessing the business and employee needs, you should be able to put together a plan of what the workforce will look like when government restrictions ease. Whether it means a mandatory return to the office, a hybrid working model or everyone completely working from home, you will have to assess the situation on a case-by-case basis and then form a plan.
Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. One thing is for sure, if you don’t do the assessment and address remote working now, bigger issues can arise.
Help is available if you need it! Key Business Advisors is equipped with well-trained, experienced HR professionals that can help you with all of your questions.
Download the following:
- 12 Steps to Start or Refresh your Business Plan
- 12 Steps to Building a Great Culture
- 12 Steps to HR Best Practice
- 12 Steps to Building a Great Sales Engine
If you would like help or want to know more about our services, please contact Key Business Advisors on 1300 4 ADVICE