From education to employment

Working From Home – A Viable Option Longer Term?

Since lockdown working from home became the future for thousands of us. Companies that may never have adopted such way of working had to rethink the way they conducted their business. In the blink of an eye people’s kitchen tables, couches and bedrooms suddenly became their offices as remote working allowed employers to maintain the health of their staff through a global pandemic. For employers there were essentially two key things that they needed to do the first was protecting their staff and helping them all work remotely the second was helping staff and customers access this new way of working.

Since March 2020, technology such as Microsoft Team, Zoom has grown along with Google Meet among other formats. Many companies have fortunately been a beneficiary of all of this, and the news is good. Overall productivity has grown, this is largely due to the fact that when you have a team working remotely they’re not spending time commuting to offices so they’ve got more time. As a Careers Adviser, we have more time to engage with our customers also in a variety of methods, from telephone, email and video chat. This has made the service more accessible, and responsive with few ‘no-shows’. More importantly it has increased the way that we engage with parents and other stake-holders.

Prior to March 2020, few people worked remotely, it is important that in-order to work remotely that employers equip their employees with the right tools that enables them to be able to do the work. What lockdown has proven is that business works better as a remote business because it forces them to communicate more effectively and have better processes internally so that they can manage the business. It is important to interact and to engage with other members of your team throughout the day and to have regular meetings and discuss things face to face where appropriate.

If you are working remotely, than one thing you may miss is the culture and the sense of being part of a team can be lost so easily if you’re just working at home in isolation. Communication’s key as it may be harder to resolve problems if you are working in isolation especially if there any stumbling blocks with technology, as remote workers maybe grappling with systems they might not have used before and that can cause problems there’s definitely a bit of a learning curve for the non-technical people within organisations. However training on systems such as Microsoft Teams has been on the whole effective and have allowed my team to use programmes to benefit not just us but also our customers. It has been several months since we introduced our remote service and I am pleased to say things are running really slick now and actually, although many people can go back to the offices if they want to the vast majority prefer working from home.

Many employers like the fact that their giving their employees more time in their lives you know they can actually spend that time they have, so they’re not commuting they’re not stressing as long as they turn up at their desks and on camera and working. From the feedback we have gained as a Careers Service, overall this has benefited employee well-being as they do have not have the added stress of commuting to and from work.

However, when you work from home you do not have the same culture that you would do in the office especially seeing people physically face to face like you know the kind of little conversations that might happen that may spark that creativity that’s not necessarily assigned to a meeting or whatever you may know. Therefore it is vital that businesses begin to adapt and try to do by having people on video during the day, this is primarily to try to recreate that culture as much as possible. Lockdown has certainly helped businesses to understand that they have to adapt we have to evolve and working from home, has been part of this evolution. This has happened in a matter of months and it is the most adaptable businesses that will survive in this global pandemic it is companies who are willing to change. Remote working could be part of the new normal as more and more business in this world adopt this way of working.

Looking ahead I feel it important that employers ask what their staff want, I think you know certainly for the next year or so, no employers should be forcing their staff back to the office, it’s up to the individual what they prefer, a blended approach could also be the answer only if it works both for the individual and the company.

Remote Working – The Benefits

Remote working has its benefits as it is possible to recruit people from around the world. Geographical restriction means staffs don’t have to be paying high rents to live companies or have issues with visas etc. It is also very convenient in terms talking to people from different locations etc. Depending on technology people can access a meeting from virtually anywhere.

However it is important to note that remote working works well, only when you the technology that allows you to so, ideally you need a team that knows how to use the technology to maximise the full benefit. Whatever the benefits of working from home are we should also consider the practical aspects of home life to consider such as interruptions from children, family pets and people knocking on the door. Therefore it is also important that you have the correct environment that allows you to do so. If you have a busy home environment, for example that you have children that demand your attention or you lives in a shared house than the office clearly a better environment.

Looking ahead people always need a human connection and they want to come back to the office to see people there’s many options available. Employers should not force staff to do that wherever staff can be the most productive and contribute meaningfully and enjoy what they do that’s what employers should support. There is however the danger that hundreds of desks that go being unused, however in this current climate this would help maintain social distancing.

Those industries that can mostly work from home a lot of people have very fast broadband and a lot of companies have web-based systems so it’s possible to do it I think we just have to learn how to do it better and how we evolve to support it going forward this may involve further training and ensuring that employers have the correct technology to provide a good service.

Overall, going back to the office depends on many factors including, health and safety of the staff and the customers that they service. It also depends on external factors such as government guidance and how employers react to this, it’s ultimately about individual choice and for us and you know the right employers should support staff, especially if they wish to attract and retain the best talent to help your business grow. Working from home is an option that many companies had not really considered prior to 2020, remote working is only an option if it suits the role your company you work for and the job you do. But now more than ever it certainly is a viable option.

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