For just over a year now, huge swathes of the country have been carrying out their day-to-day jobs from their own homes. But, as the world begins to take tentative steps towards normality, organisations across the globe are starting to wonder what place, if any, remote working has for them in the long-term.
A divisive issue?
It’s no exaggeration to say that the need for remote working has sent shockwaves through the world of work, affecting everyone from international tech firms, right the way down to local not-for-profit organisations. And companies appear to be massively split on its merits and drawbacks. Social media giants Twitter were early cheerleaders for the ‘new normal’ last May when they declared that its employees ‘can now work from home forever’. Indeed, many organisations have reported an increase in productivity since their workforce were banished from the office.
On the other end of the scale, Goldman Sachs boss David Solomon made headlines in February of this year when he proclaimed home working to be ‘an aberration that we’re going to correct as soon as possible’. As if to back up Solomon’s opinion, some employees have reported feeling more anxious and burned out as a result of remote working.
Divisive, then, seems to be an understatement.
So where do we go from here?
As with so many aspects of life, moderation may well be the answer. In a survey taken before the pandemic, 62% of employees favoured a solely ‘on-site’ working model. Today, that figure has almost reversed, with 63% of people now preferring to work at home at least some of the week. Of those, 83% would opt for a blend of both home and office-based working.
If moderation is one key to getting the approach right, then as with so many issues in the workplace, communication appears to be another.
According to research by McKinsey & Company, 68% of survey participants say that their organisation had either vaguely communicated their vision for post-pandemic work, or hadn’t communicated it all. Almost half of those respondents reported that this lack of clear vision was causing them concern or anxiety.
Many organisations now stand at an incredibly exciting crossroads. They have a rare opportunity to re-model the very structure of work itself, and create a way of working that benefits everyone. However, amongst the excitement and the turbulence, it seems the first step many need to take is consulting and communicating with their staff.
Is that a step you need to take?