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At the start of the first lockdown, many were discussing the long-term ramifications, particularly for businesses. While the concept of working from home was steadily growing before COVID-19, the pandemic speedily increased the number of companies implementing this way of working.

A little over a year later, how has the pandemic changed working from home? We investigated. 

Positive side-effects of remote working

The pandemic may have caused a rise in flexible and remote working, but if you dig a little deeper, you’ll see that the benefits of these alternative ways to work are far-reaching:

Working from home has reduced the stigma around flexible working

In addition to the drastic increase in home working, the pandemic brought with it an incline in flexible working hours. One survey showed that 36% of respondents reported completing more work in a shorter time-frame while working remotely. 

The same survey highlighted that 43% were able to focus on work priorities during lockdown too. 

Another study specified that 55% of participants believed that their colleagues were either just as, or more, productive than before lockdown.

These stats are particularly strengthened when you consider the amount of stress and anxiety caused by COVID-19. It makes you wonder how much more performance will increase if employees work flexibly and remotely outside of a global pandemic.

Flexible working provides better opportunities for women

Research suggests that flexible working can reduce the gender pay gap and assist in attracting and retaining talent. 

A report that focused particularly on women in the tech space specified that 70% would stay in their current role for one year longer, at least, if flexible and remote working were available. Of this, 36% specified that they would remain at their company for five to ten years longer. 

Working from home has resulted in improved support

There has been a marked increase in both organisations and those in management roles, ensuring that employees have the tools and support they need to operate effectively from home.

Additionally, 75% of office-workers revealed that, since lockdown began, they have accessed at least two different types of technology they hadn’t utilised before. 

Negative side-effects of remote working

While there have been considerable positive changes stemming from remote and flexible working due to COVID-19, the pandemic has also brought with it some negative ramifications. 

Two out of three employees surveyed reported blurred lines due to remote working. This may stem from a lack of space in the home environment. Not everybody has room for a separate office, and many may struggle to separate their working life from their personal life as a result.

For some, this is exacerbated by extended working hours. Whether this is due to an increase in workload or decreased concentration due to pandemic-related stress is unclear.

Additionally, many are missing the interaction that comes with working in a team.

While many reported being just as productive throughout COVID-19, it has become clear that there is a gap between productivity and socioeconomic groups, occupations and industries; participants who are self-employed, earn lower salaries, are female and parents reported a marked decline in productivity throughout the pandemic.

How can businesses hack into the positive aspects of home working?

The wealth of research taking place throughout the pandemic means that companies have plenty of data to work from when deciding whether to continue with flexible and remote working after lockdown ends. 

As a company operating a four-day workweek for over a year, we are advocates for finding better ways to operate outside the traditional nine to five.  

If you are considering implementing flexible or remote working practices, we recommend you:

  1. Incorporate these into your benefits package when recruiting -

Individuals searching for ‘remote jobs’ have peaked, so including this in your job description is a must.

  1. Take your current employees into account - While introverts may thrive in a home working environment, extroverts could struggle. If your team are largely extroverts, they may prefer a four-day workweek rather than a remote operation. Be sure to consider your employee’s personality types before implementing any decisions.

  2. Experiment with new ways of working outside of COVID-19 - Multiple positives have stemmed from working from home. Still, the stress and anxiety caused by the current state of play will have skewed the results. We recommend experimenting with alternative ways of operating permanent changes. 

If you operate in a sector that could implement flexible or remote working, you will most likely find that the pros of this type of operation far outweigh the cons.  

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