Is the office dead and remote work is the future? By forcing people to work from home, the coronavirus pandemic has opened the eyes of companies to new ways of working. People who work from home, so it’s easy to see why the future of the office could change are currently managing some of the world’s leading companies. But is this really the best thing for companies and their employees?
In the short term, perhaps it is. In fact, companies are advised that employees continue to work from home for now, if they can. However, looking at the longer term, there are compelling reasons to support that the office is not going away.
What Will Happen To Remote Work?
Before the coronavirus outbreak, many companies were still weighing the pros and cons of having their staff work remotely. Last year, a Tiger Recruitment survey of more than 2,000 employees found that only a third had the option of working from home or telecommuting.
Now many of the questions executives have been pondering for months, even years, have been answered almost overnight. Could our company operate remotely? Could our employees be trusted to work from home? Will they continue to be productive?
Numerous surveys point to the fact that the answer is a resounding “yes”.
People feel they perform just as well at home as in the office (70% are satisfied in both places, according to the 2020 Global Work-from-Home Experience Survey), and managers agree. Employees surveyed by Tiger Recruitment said they like the fact that they save time by not having to commute.
A Boost For Mental And Social Well-being
As much as employees see the benefits of working from home, they also report feeling lonely and isolated. A YouGov study, conducted in partnership with USA TODAY and LinkedIn, revealed that more than half of those surveyed (51%) said they felt lonely working from home. These sentiments are undoubtedly amplified by current social distancing measures, but even before the pandemic, loneliness was a common remote worker situation.
People miss going to the office and talking to colleagues face-to-face. For employees, when they work from the office, it is much easier to create a healthy separation between work and play. This distinction can easily become blurred when working from home, making it difficult to disconnect.
For many, the office is a vital social hub. Organizations have tried to maintain the social aspect of work through virtual media, from online book clubs to virtual team drinks, but this cannot replace the deep connections that are built face-to-face. These employment relationships are important.
More Communication, Collaboration And Creativity
Online collaboration tools have been a lifesaver during the coronavirus crisis, allowing companies to continue to communicate and collaborate. But a virtual meeting does not have the same immediacy as a physical meeting, and it is easier to communicate and build face-to-face relationships.
Face-to-face communication also stimulates creativity. The best ideas often come when they are least expected. Moments of conversations between coworkers or casual encounters in the office kitchen are more likely to generate more creativity than a planned video call.
People can work effectively from home. However, not everyone has the appropriate means to do so.
In an office environment, you are more likely to have higher spec configuration and faster connection speeds, with immediate access to technical support if needed. In many cases, working in the office means fewer interruptions and more efficiency. This is especially true for working parents or people who live with roommates, where finding the mental (and sometimes physical) space necessary to focus on work can be challenging.
A Hybrid Future
There’s no question that the coronavirus pandemic has changed work as we know it, and its influence is likely to be felt for years, if not decades, to come, but that doesn’t mean the office is dead. Declaring her disappearance, based on the experience of a few months, is hasty.
What this experience has shown is that telecommuting can be good for business, and most people are likely to do so more in the future. Some companies have adapted easily, while others, in more customer-oriented and sales-oriented professions, lose the energy they get from collaborating face-to-face.
In the future, there will be more support for home and remote work. And the office will live on, albeit in a reimagined way, perhaps as a smaller or more flexible space than before. This offers companies the best of both worlds: the perfect combination of virtual and physical, concentration and collaboration without restrictions.