COVID-19 has forced a lot of companies into remote working that would never in a million years have decided to pursue its potential benefits. With necessity being the momentum behind it, those who were already practising remote working are already ahead of the curve while others are still playing catch-up.
There are always the early adopters of new work practices, then the latecomers. With the recent pandemic, those latecomers are a mix of those who were just fashionably late to the party and those who never wanted to party in the first place.
Companies that have recently applied remote working for their employees are discovering the pros & cons. Some employees are just not designed or developed to the point of being able to work away from their desks. Their structure, their beloved coffee machine or the safety blanket that is their manager micromanaging them throughout the day.
Not everyone is a big-picture thinker. Some staff productivity will soar beyond what companies think possible. Others will dip as their people just cannot associate their homes with work. Which is a fair outcome if you have not prepared them for this eventuality.
Some employees will be lining up requests to ask their bosses to switch over to remote working fully or to ‘dual work’ at least 2 days a week to begin with, once this pandemic is over. They have discovered that their natural work can be done remotely.
Employees realised that they are spending a lot less on coffee and lunch, and for those in cities, saving up to 2 hours per day commuting where they could be spending valuable time with their families, going for a walk or getting some time to read a few pages of a book. They want remote/dual working to be their “new normal”.
Others, however, are chomping at the bit to get back to the office. They like to be able to chat across the room for an instant answer. They enjoy the hustle and bustle of the office, dress smart and grab their favourite coffee from their favourite coffee spot each morning. Nothing wrong with that, nothing beats being out on a fresh, crisp morning. This is their normal and they want it back!
For now, we are in the middle ground, in remote working limbo. Some love it, some hate it. Some want it exclusively, others not at all. Then we have those in the middle, 50/50, who like the idea of dual working, half the week remotely and the other half onsite.
So, is remote working/dual working going to become the new normal? Well, until this pandemic blows over it is for many, the only option. With COVID-19 lockdowns looking like they will be in place for many more weeks to come, it is the only work practice in town. The good part is that nobody will be shocked or fearful of the premise of remote/dual working in the future. With the right tools and business culture in place, it will become a normal part of agile working.
Many companies are beginning to see the benefits and will be sold on the idea. What’s not to love? Increased productivity, reduced overheads for office space and offering a more flexible work week will be a great hook for any potential new hires in your organisation.
Although COVID-19 has wrought much devastation and grief around the globe, we must look forward and be optimistic about the future. Lockdown has allowed us to take stock of what we value. Such as spending a lot more time with our families, spending more time outside and being grateful that we are not among the many who have fallen foul of this devastating illness. Perhaps this time will help us see clearly and give us a way to create this elusive work-life balance once and for all.