Working from home has been thrown into the mainstream over the past 18 months after countless businesses shut up shop and told staff to work from home in the face of COVID-19. That meant that, in 2020, the proportion of working adults doing some or all their work from home increased to 37%, up from 27% in 2019, according to the ONS. But will this trend continue? What are the pros and cons? And what does the best practice remote working future look like?
Will homeworking continue? What the stats say
This trend appears to be sticking, even as the country unlocks. The same ONS statistics showed that number of job roles mentioning home working advertised on Adzuna tripled between February 2020 and May 2021.
In that same month, 24% of businesses said they were likely to use increased homeworking on a permanent basis, and 28% being unsure of the prospect. The number of permanent proponents was highest in information and communication, where 49% wished to continue the practice on a permanent basis (though this is much lower than the 81% in the sector currently working remotely).
What are the pros and cons of working from home?
While these numbers are indeed diminishing compared to the numbers remote working during the pandemic, there are many reasons why they should continue – alongside several risks that may put employers off continuing the practice.
According to EY, remote working has allowed companies to reduce costs related to office space, commuting, and business trips. And for employees, fewer travel, food, social, clothing, and many other costs, have all been reduced too.
Many businesses, especially those in the aforementioned information and communication sector, have found that, after the initial pitfalls of implementing remote working at the start of the pandemic, they work just as well as before, if not better. That’s especially the case with a hybrid approach, where a degree of in-person collaboration is also enabled. Additionally, remote working gives staff flexibility – in terms of childcare, work-life balance, and so forth.
There are some risks that come with full-time working from home though. Firstly, it can hamper collaboration if not properly implemented. Without forums for ‘water cooler’ conversation and team project work, then work can suffer, and team members can feel detached and cloistered, which can harm mental health.
For staff that are tenants and their employers, if accidents in the home occur, such as flooding, fire, break-ins, and so forth, then these can jeopardise work equipment and harm working areas – particularly if the employee doesn’t have their own dedicated office. This risk can necessitate the need for renters’ insurance which may or may not need to be provided by the employer. Understandably, some businesses may not be keen on covering these costs.
What is the best long-term solution for staff and employers?
For many, a hybrid approach is the best likely outcome. This combines the flexibility of remote working with the in-person benefits of working in an office setting, and the collaboration and innovation this brings. It will also allow employers to have access to a wider pool of talent – a must when combating skills gaps that might be localised in their nature.
Do you own a business? Are you an employee currently or seeking to work from home? Let us know how you think the future of work will play out in the comments section below.