Remote working arrangements have seen a surge in popularity with businesses around the world, as increased safety measures due to the COVID 19 pandemic have forced people to make meaningful changes to their daily lives.
Effect of COVID-19 on the Workplace
According to figures released by the Office for National Statistics, 49.2% of adult workers in the UK were working from home due to the social distancing measures that were implemented during the pandemic. While this is an increase from prior numbers of people working from home, this number is in line with previous predictions relating to the number of remote workers in the UK by 2020 that were made before the advent of social distancing practices. What the pandemic has done, though, is show businesses that were on the fence about allowing their staff to work from home the possibilities that this kind of change can open up for them.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has done a lot to change the way people do business, even prior to the implementation of social distancing measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, many businesses in the UK were looking at transforming their business models to suit a remote work environment.
More Employers Are Seeing the Benefit of Working from Home
The main argument against remote work has typically been that workers will be less productive without senior staff around to ensure that their targets are being met and that work gets done. With the new social distancing measures forcing more people to work remotely, it can now be shown that most workers are more productive when they are outside the confines of a stressful office environment. This is partly due to employee morale being higher when workers are able to perform at least some of their work from home. This boost in morale also tends to lead to increased staff retention so there is less time wasted on searching for and then training new staff.
One of the key benefits to hiring workers for remote positions is that employers have access to a wider talent pool than they would have if their workers all had to live in the area that the office was situated in. This means that employers can hire the best people for the roles that they need to be filled regardless of that person’s location or even time zone. It will also mean that an employer can look to hire workers who are already trained for the position they are applying for which means a reduction in training costs and time as well.
Finally, one of the most touched upon but most important reasons a business would allow their staff to work remotely is cost. Businesses that can shift at least some of their staff to remote work will see a huge reduction in the costs of overheads as a smaller office will mean less rent, reduced costs for water and electricity, and it will mean that the business does not need to spend money on office equipment such as chairs and tables for each staff member.
As part of the cost reduction, it must be mentioned that workers who are given the option to work from home typically tend to accept lower salaries than their counterparts who have to commute into the office every day. Should a company choose to hire freelancers for their remote work positions, then they will see even more cost reduction benefits as businesses do not need to pay for pension plans or health insurance for freelance staff.
Working from Home Has Never Been Easier
Thanks to advances in modern technology, people now have access to technology that once was only affordable to big companies and corporations. According to analytics site Statista, in 2019 it was estimated that 96% of homes in the UK had internet access while 67% of people included in a study on laptop ownership said they owned or had access to a laptop in their home. This means that most people in 2020 have the potential and means to be able to perform their daily work tasks from home; any home that has access to a fixed landline, or even just a mobile phone connection, has the potential to become a home office.
With remote working having seen a surge in popularity, software solutions that enable people to connect with their co-workers and share ideas have also become more popular and more feature-filled. Workflow management applications such as Trello and communication applications such as Slack can assist in keeping lines of communication open between co-workers while also allowing managers an easy way to keep track of who is working on what task and when it will be completed. These types of collaboration tools are vital in making sure businesses can run smoothly in a virtual environment.
For companies who want to transform into the digital space but still require the occasional use of an office, coworking environments are a popular alternative to a fulltime office. Coworking offices are shared spaces that offer businesses access to infrastructure and services that would typically be found in an office such as high-speed internet, boardrooms and meeting area, and printing areas. These spaces give businesses access to all the essentials that one would usually find in an office but on a pay-as-you-go basis.
For a deeper dive into what the offices of the future may look like, be sure to read How The Pandemic Has Shaped The Future Of The Office from Amos Beech, a workplace consultancy and interior design company with a long history in the office interiors industry.
So, Do You Need an Office Space?
With just a working desktop computer or laptop, an internet connection, and access to the right software and tools to keep in touch with co-workers, a person can work from pretty much anywhere, so why not from the comfort of their own home? With the practice offering both employers and employees a range of benefits, there is little need for businesses who don’t need a physical office to complete their work to have one.