The COVID-19 pandemic is shutting down offices and forcing them to shift to work from home. In the recent data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), almost 50% of the workers revealed they had been working remotely between June 7 and June 14. That is nearly 45% increase compared to the previous week.
Moreover, experts believe that until a vaccine becomes available, this setup will continue. Business owners and employees can then foresee spending more time away from the office until the following year.
This then begs the question, will companies eventually embrace this arrangement forever? What does the data say? For those who like to maintain it, what steps can they take for a more manageable transition?
Is This the Future of Working in the UK?
In a survey shared by the World Economic Forum (WEF), Founders Forum, a UK-based startup that conducted it, revealed that 94% of the participants worked in an office before the pandemic.
However, remote work is actually a growing phenomenon in the country. The Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) already shared that 14% of the employees work from home, almost double that of the United States.
In 1998, over 1 million people in the UK didn’t work in an office, and that number climbed to a whopping 4 million in 2014. In fact, the same WEF survey showed that even those who reported to the office, 90% could still perform their jobs at home.
It’s, therefore, safe to assume that remote work is the future in the UK, especially since many businesses expressed reluctance in reopening anytime soon. Some may find the arrangement convenient since they can reduce expenses and offer their employees greater flexibility.
Meanwhile, the WEF survey believed the same thing – that is, employees would work from home five days a week. Nevertheless, it also suggests a balance where workers report to the office at least two times a week.
How Companies Can Be Flexible
If there is one lesson businesses could learn from this pandemic, it’s that it pays to be flexible. It should be ready if the trend leans towards more home-based work. They can do that with these tips:
1. Invest in Communication
Communication helps build relationships among stakeholders: business owners, employees, and customers. A remote setup should not hinder that. For companies, they may have to invest in the right tools, such as enterprise-level VoIP systems that can handle 0800 numbers.
2. Strive to Be More Results-Driven
Back in the office, it’s easy to keep track of everyone’s productivity, including attendance and output. It may be different once they transition to remote work. Some people can say they’re present and not come up with anything at the end of the day.
When possible, it’s time to also transition to a more results-driven metrics for productivity. Teams may identify milestones or submit progress reports at the end of the week.
3. Strengthen Engagement
Contrary to popular belief, remote workers can be just as engaged as those who are in the office. They may even have higher engagement levels. However, it can also decline; and with a lack of supervision, you will have a hard time knowing how severe the problem is until the consequences are dire.
In the Gallup survey, companies who constantly checked in with their employees were able to maintain their ideal level of engagement. So do those that perform regular performance reviews, feedback, and coaching.
As employees become more comfortable with remote work, it may eventually become a case of “don’t fix something that’s not broken.” Businesses should be ready for that.