Working remotely is the new norm…true statement? Or will we ever return to the office?
By Lawrence Breen – MD
Of all the COVID-19 changes, there’s probably only one that has received consistent positive press: Working from home. While it caused some issues at first, it seems that many of us adapted to the change.
In fact, we did more than adapt. There’s a real feeling in the business world that people do, in fact, love the freedom to work remotely or from the office, especially those in metropolitan areas.
It has an interesting knock-on effect, way beyond just working from home. Transport, corporate leases, internet speed, hospitality businesses…it’s all potentially shifting and not just for the period of the pandemic.
So the question is: Is this the new norm? Will we ever return to the office fulltime?
It has some real benefits
There’s no doubt working from home has some real benefits. If you look at a city like Sydney, not travelling for extended periods in peak hour is a real benefit for workers, and has some great environmental pluses too.
Managing work/life balance is a topic that’s been around for decades and now it seems it’s taken off during COVID. People are working from home, commuting less, and are able to work the same or more hours. While doing that, they can also spend more time with family and have the opportunity to engage in activities that a long commute may have ruled out, such as regular exercise.
We’ve replaced the traditional meeting with a Zoom call. While it may not completely replace face-to-face, it’s certainly been achievable and maybe even made us cut back on the number of pointless meetings we have.
It’s also meant that people moving out of the CBD has provided a much needed boost to everyday life in the regions in which they live. They buy a daily coffee at the local café and shop more locally. It has some real benefits.
But there is a flipside
While for some it sounds like nirvana, other people will willingly point out the downside. For starters, some people hate having to work from home. The act of going to work is something they enjoy, they like the separation of home and work time. It can also be very distracting if you don’t have a dedicated workspace in your home.
There’s also the relationship aspect. In my mind, it’s hard to completely replace that human connection, working as a team together in one location. Sure, we can replicate that online, but we are social creatures, by and large, and that means we crave interacting with others. This can be an even larger issue for people who live alone. While we may not love everyone we work with, there is something that we create as a team when we all work together and I can’t help wondering whether we’re losing some of that.
Some changes will be permanent
Ultimately, what do I think will happen? We’ll find a middle point where people work part of the week remotely and the remainder in an office of some sort, whether it’s a hub or a head office somewhere.
As a technology company that deals primarily with business, it’s changed our offering and it means we’re investing in new ways to help make this happen. In that way, it’s an exciting challenge for us and one where we’re capable of helping our clients in the transition to a different way of working.
So what do you think? Contact me here if you want to discuss your specific circumstances.