In March 2020, offices around the world began shutting down as a result of national lockdowns enacted by various governments to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Overnight employees had to face a new reality of remote working - many for the first time - for the foreseeable future. A year on, many office workers are still spending a significant, if not all of their working hours working from home.
As we mark the first anniversary of the great WFH experiment, what have we all learnt from the experience? And how has our approach and attitudes to remote working changed over the past 12 months?
One major finding that most companies able to remote have found is that it, works. Despite worries of unproductivity, communication issues and general connectivity, moving entire offices to working remotely has generally not had those problems, and in some instances has shown to improve those key metrics. Findings from an international survey conducted by the Leesman Index found that over 80% of respondents felt their home environment enabled them to work productively, with 91% saying they felt adequately supported to carry out their job roles.
Another survey by Flexjobs showed that only 5% of workers claimed to be less productive, with 51% saying they were more productive. This is in no small part down to the advanced range of communication tools available, and after the initial scramble to turn organisations into video meeting, digitally collaborative entities, things have settled into a steady rhythm.
Not everyone has had such a positive work from home experience, and that is largely down to the environments they have at their disposal. Those in large house shares or small apartments may have experienced a lack of suitable space to work from, often resorting to sofas, kitchen tables, or even beds, which is very much not an ideal or sustainable solution. Again, looking at to the Leesman study results, they found that 90% of respondents said that having a proper office chair was important, but only 54% found the one in their home to be satisfactory - quite a significant gap.
It’s also important to note that not everyone is in the position to work from home, with frontline workers, and those whose workspaces are incompatible with remote working having to remain in their designated workplaces, or face being laid-off or furloughed.
As alluded to above, having a dedicated working environment has been key to a healthy, happy and productive remote working experience. And whilst there are varying levels of responsibility for employers to help you achieve a viable home working environment, the onus is often ultimately placed in the employee's hands.
Those with the right equipment, such as an ergonomic office-style chair, desk, and computer peripherals will undoubtedly have a more productive day and are less prone to health issues such as muscle and joint pains.
The past year has also made it abundantly clear that there is still a great need and desire for people to meet. Various reports and anecdotal evidence suggests that the main things people miss about the office are the people they work with. A lack of incidental and impromptu meetings, general chit chat and socialising on lunch breaks has left some remote workers feeling isolated, especially when combined with more general social restrictions in place in various countries. And whilst technology can, to some extent, be a great tool for more collaborative and creative activities, for many, it is not a viable substitute for meeting in person, especially when you consider growing issues such as Zoom fatigue and delays in communication channels.
Having said that, the last year for many has been an eye-opener when it comes to the benefits of working from home, especially for those who previously had a long commute and childcare responsibilities. And for almost everyone, the ability to be more autonomous over there day to day activities and a redressing of the work-life balance has been hugely positive.
Employers too are suggesting they are open to a certain level of remote working, with some big players already setting out their post-pandemic plans of allowing remote working fro all employees a certain number of days.
What is also clear is that the office is by no means dead. As mentioned earlier, there is still a need and desire for colleagues to meet in person, especially for collaborative work. What is less clear is to what extent the workplace will adapt to better suit the new ‘Hybrid Work Model’ that is being talked about more and more.
Will office spaces reduce their focus on individual work stations? Will they be more adapted to shared, creative and social spaces?
That, we think, is the big question that architects, employers and workers will be facing over the next 12 months.
At Flokk, we think that everyone deserves to be healthy, happy and productive whilst at work, which is why we offer a wide range of stylish, sustainable and above all comfortable seating perfect for every working environment. Made to order, and available in countless fabrics and colours, visit our website today to design and order yours now.
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