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This post is by Anthony Savage of Sparta Health

Living through a pandemic is something no one could have predicted. Every day we are being challenged with how to go about our lives in a way as close to normal as we can manage. There are plenty of challenges that present themselves to us, one of which being how we go about our careers. During lockdown some people continued to work but from their own home, while others were granted furlough or became unemployed. In April 2020 46.6% of people were working from home in the UK (1). Now we are moving out of this lockdown the question remains: if you can work from home is there need for offices anymore?

Are offices pointless?

Plenty of businesses now work online, both in regards to serving customers and communicating with other members of staff. Coronavirus took this to a new level by forcing people to do all of their work online, whether it was already mandatory or not. As the threat of the virus is still lingering, plenty of people are struggling with returning to work and insist they can continue their job from home. If this is the case, companies can save thousands by not having to pay for a building to house their employees.

Another advantage to this is companies are able to have anyone work for them from anywhere in the world, as long as they have good internet connection. This way the company benefits from gaining exceptional staff without the hassle of running an office. Furthermore, there’s less expenses on equipment, staff snacks and tax when you’re managing a team from home. This cuts out a lot of the complications about running a business.

There’s also an environmental benefit; if no employees are doing their commute into work there’s less traffic on the roads, which means less pollution. This time saved on travelling to and from work gives employees more time to themselves. Whether this is spent getting more sleep, waking up properly before the workday or just thinking about what the day holds, employees are sure to be happy spending less time and money on travelling for their day job (2).

What about socialising?

Talking by the water cooler is a main source of communication for people that work in office buildings. Sitting at their desks all day often deprives them of conversation, which is why breaks are often spent with fellow employees, giving time for the mood to lighten. However, when working from home this socialisation doesn’t exist. The only communication people can have with their peers is via a Zoom call, telephone or email.

In addition to this, a study found that engineers who shared a physical space were 20% more likely to stay in digital touch than those working alone (3). This means that even though they can connect with colleagues via the internet, working from home is depriving staff from human connection and conversation which negatively impacts morale and mental health.

Productivity

Though there is less socialising with other staff, employees seem overall more content working at home. Having the ability to tackle small household jobs while taking a break gives freedom to your day and makes you feel more productive. In fact, employees working from home are 13% more productive than those that work in an office setting (4), meaning that the standard of work produced is effectively higher, keeping both customers and the head of the company happy.

You’re also guaranteed to be more productive if morale is high and plenty of people working from home feel more satisfied with their work- life balance. Employees often take less sick days as a lot of illnesses can be battled through while working from the comfort of your own couch and as such benefits the company overall.

What about coronavirus?

Many employees worry that going back into the office is pointless since Covid-19 is still a worry. Since it is undetermined whether there will be more lockdowns and how much more restrictions will tighten, staff are hesitant to try getting used to being back in the office when they could just end up back at home again. Due to this, plenty of people continue to work at home, with their employer’s approval, which brings about the question: will this be permanent?

A lot of companies have gladly adapted to using Zoom and other forms of video call services as a means to holding staff meetings and working from home as normal, while others are desperate to get back into the office. Covid-19 has changed the outlook of an office job and it is almost certain that a lot of roles will now be based from home for the foreseeable future. Though some jobs do require an office setting and thrive off that atmosphere, others are able to continue out of office and still keep to a high standard.

Plenty of jobs now don’t even require a face to face interview due to the pandemic. A conversation over Zoom or via a simple phone call is becoming standard and may just erase the traditional interview altogether. This complicated situation has required us to think outside the box in regards to working safely and productively, making full use of modern technology. There’s no doubt that this will continue to thrive in the future, though whether that means an office setting will still be considered useful is yet to be determined. One thing we can be sure of is this new normal workspace may just revolutionise how we approach careers in the future.

About Anthony Savage 

Anthony Savage is the Medical Services Manager at Sparta Health, having joined the team in 2017 and is responsible for the overall operational delivery of our high quality services to our clients. He has a solid background in workplace physiology, health and safety, as well over 12 years of delivering, and holding senior management positions, for leading injury and condition management providers.

He is known for his innovative approach in his design and execution of services and his ability to build enduring relationships.

References:

  1. Cameron, A. Coronavirus and homeworking in the UK: April 2020. 2020 July 8 [cited 2020 September 30]; Available from: https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/bulletins/coronavirusandhomeworkingintheuk/april2020
  2. Delves A, Hellicar L. 10 benefits and disadvantages of working from home. 2020 March 17 [cited 2020 September 30]; Available from: https://www.simplybusiness.co.uk/knowledge/articles/2020/03/benefits-of-working-from-home/
  3. Anthony, A. Another day not at the office: will working from home be 2020's most radical change? 2020 September 20 [cited 2020 September 30]; Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/sep/20/wfh-not-office-working-from-home-2020-radical-change-effects-lockdown
  4. Johnson, C. 20 Reasons to Let Your Employees Work From Home. 2015 December 14 [cited 2020 September 30]; Available from: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/253896
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