Opinion

By Ben Hart,

Working from home – the new normal

Even before the world was brought to its knees by a chain of events at once both staggeringly unlikely and completely inevitable, there had been an increasing shift from the old approach to work that we have considered to be normal for over a century. Increasingly, people have slowly begun to make a shift to working from home, which was facilitated in part by the widespread availability of high speed internet allowing the possibility of high quality video calls, conference calls and VPN networks. With studies coming out suggesting that, for some people at least, working from home can actually increase productivity, decrease stress and lead to a happier work life balance, people have truly begun wondering whether working from home more than in the office could be a possibility.

This move to remote working was accelerated when, sometime towards the end of 2019, a new and virulent strain of Coronavirus made the jump from animals to humans, probably in the wet markets of Wuhan, an unremarkable city that was previously unheard of by pretty much anyone outside of China. The rest is history, albeit history that is still being written.

Thanks to advances in technology, we can achieve the same level of connection as if we were actually at the office, rather than sitting in our homes, and with newer technologies like Wi-fi 6, 5G mobile internet and fibre optic connections, the infrastructure is now there to support this new way of working.

While Covid19 is gradually falling off the radar, with other world and local events dominating the news cycle, and new cases of Covid19 falling by the day, the profound psychological effects of Covid19 may last for many years to come. A paradigm shift has certainly occurred, with millions of people around the globe coming to terms with a newfound respect for hygienic practices, and a new and pervasive fear of catching diseases; a mass case of germophobia, or viralphobia perhaps? Social distancing has become the new normal, and even after the last case of Coronavirus has gone, and the restrictions imposed by the powers that be are relaxed, people may likely attempt to continue adhering to a self imposed regime of social distancing, fearful of contact with others; the pervasive psychological effects caused by this pandemic will take much longer to heal from than the virus itself. There is no doubt that the post-Covid world will be a very different place compared to the world before Corona.

As mentioned above, working from home can be far more enjoyable than going into the office every day. It’s hardly enjoyable dragging yourself out of bed at six in the morning, cramming yourself onto a tube carriage or spending hours gridlocked on the motorway, then arriving in a stuffy office packed with other staff and the associated office politics, and an air conditioning system that is perpetually set either too high or too low. With the right mindset, and the right setup, working from home can be an all round more pleasant experience.

Studies have shown that employees who work from home are often healthier, tending to eat more healthily than if they were at the office. The usual office workers’ diet consists of Pret sandwiches, endless cups of coffee, packets of crisps and other assorted junk food. Being at home allows much greater choice over what we eat. Eating healthily, spending more time with family and the ability to be more flexible with our working hours allows for a far more balanced lifestyle. Office workers may feel it’s more hassle than it’s worth to arrange time off for a doctor’s appointment. Working from home allows you to be flexible with your time, maybe taking a couple of hours in the middle of the day to go to the gym, or to get to a dentist appointment. All the time saved commuting can be put to good use, and lunch breaks can actually be used for meaningful rest and relaxation, rather than sitting in the staff kitchen waiting for the clock to hit two o’clock to get back to work.

The benefits aren’t just for employees, but for the employers also, who have reported that staff are often more productive when working remotely, with them being able to avoid distractions, making less mistakes as a result of being able to better focus, taking less time off sick whilst also saving the company money by paying for their own internet connection and electricity, not to mention computers, printers and ink cartridges, office chairs and office furniture, or the cost of renting office space. Another advantage of remote working for employers is that when hiring staff they are far less limited by geographic considerations. There’s nothing to stop someone in Australia working for a UK based company if they don’t need to actually step foot into the office. Of course that’s an extreme example, but working from home allows employers to pick from a far larger pool of talent, making it much easier to find the perfect person for the job role.

Of course, working remotely can have its pitfalls too, and is better suited to some workers than others. For some, the lack of a boss present can lead to them putting off work, getting distracted and watching hour upon hour of Netflix or spending all day on social media, although many workers are doing this in the office anyway!

To work from home successfully, there are a few steps that you can take to help you. In this series of articles, we hope to give you some advice you might find helpful. Look out for the next article on getting yourself the right kit for working from home.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *