As the world is reeling under the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new world order is emerging. In this new order, the way in which people meet, interact, and work has undergone a significant change. In fact, over the last several weeks, a vast majority of professionals across the world have been forced to work from home. With the end of the COVID pandemic nowhere in sight and social distancing being the only way to avoid contracting the fatal disease, there is every likelihood of the trend of work from home would continue or the next several months, at least for a significant section of the workforce in most industries. In fact, many experts are of the opinion that working from home or remote working may soon become the new normal in the post COVID world.
Why Work from Home is likely to be popular with employees
The concept of work from home was being implemented by organizations long before the advent of COVID-19; albeit on a fairly small scale usually to take care of temporary personal needs of employees. However, with COVID-19 businesses were forced to make work from home the mainstay of their business continuity plans. Neither employers nor employees had any choice in this matter if they had to keep the businesses running. However, work from home is unlikely to end even after the pandemic has been controlled. We see it still being popular with the employees going forward for the following reasons:
Working from home makes it easier for employees to schedule their tasks in a manner that leaves them with enough time to fulfil their personal responsibilities. They can choose to work early in the morning or late into the night or even create a distributed work schedule so that they can spend quality time with their loved ones and also take care of household chores. Also, the time saved in commuting can be utilized as personal time or even towards work. Some employees may even choose to relocate to their hometowns and operate from their homes in those places, where they can be close to their families and take care of their needs.
Working from home can help employees save money personally as they do not need to commute (if not sponsored by the company), eat outside while at work (if not sponsored by the company) or stay close to the office (where rents might be higher). Some of them might operate from their hometowns where the savings might be substantial.
By working from home, employees are less likely to feel stressed normally caused by commuting and the pressures of being away from their family members especially if someone at home is not well.
Employees can save a significant amount of time every day that would have been spent normally in commuting. This can make them more productive. They can also devote this time to learning and development to hone their professional skills required for career growth. Being able to balance between professional and personal responsibilities reduces their stress levels and improves their productivity. So overall, work from home might result in higher performance from employees which can help them in their career progression.
Why Work from Home is likely to be popular with the employers
Despite its various advantages, many organizations were sceptical about allowing their employees to work from home in a pre-COVID-19 world. The COVID pandemic was a rude wakeup call for many such organizations. Having tested the waters during the crisis, many organizations are thinking of enabling a significant section of their workforce to work from home even after the crisis subsides. They have seen the concept of work from home in action for the last several weeks and understood its benefits and the risks. Already, corporate giants such as TCS and Infosys have announced their plans to allow a large percentage of their employees to continue working from home even after the restrictions related to COVID-19 have been lifted.
There are several advantages of Work from Home that organizations are seeing the key ones are as follows:
- Cuts down overhead costs
It reduces the need for organizations to invest in or maintain workplace infrastructure and facilities, which can increase their bottom line quite significantly. They can cut down the energy costs by considerably, besides saving on other costs such as transportation, canteen, housekeeping etc. Moreover, organizations are required to provide several benefits to their employees at a dedicated workplace, which can all add up to be quite significant. Even if organizations are required to provide a certain allowance to employees for high-speed internet and power backup at home, they will still save significantly by allowing a significant segment of their employees to work from home.
- Enhances employee safety
Even if the current crisis of the COVID pandemic subsides, social distancing norms might remain in place for much longer. In fact, it is quite possible that it might become the new normal. Hence work from home will enable organizations to implement social distancing norms quite easily and ensure employee health and safety. Also, commuting during the rush hours in the morning and evening is high risk due to the high occurrence of road accidents, crime and pollution levels. Thus, working from home ensures employee safety.
- Ensures business continuity
Though the COVID-19 crisis was one of its kind, cities all over the world are plagued by various natural calamities and man-made disasters from time to time such as heavy rains and floods, smog and bush fires, etc. as well as incidents like protests, riots, etc. Having a significant portion of their workforce working from home can become an integral part of the business continuity plans of most organizations.
- Better employee retention
It reduces the risk of organizations losing their best performing employees due to their inability to come to the workplace every day for various reasons such as maternity, relocation due to personal reasons, their own health issues or health issues of their family member. By enabling remote working for their employees, organizations enable them to take care of their personal needs and responsibilities without leaving the organization. This also deepens their sense of belonging and loyalty to the organization – such employees are likely to be more committed and dedicated and are less likely to look for opportunities outside the organization.
- Access to a larger pool of talent
One big benefit for organizations adopting remote working as part of their operating policy is that it provides them with a wider pool of talent to hire from. From freelancers to professionals who might not be able to follow a typical 9-to-5 work schedule, or even new mothers forced to give up a flourishing career to take care of young children, organizations can pick from a much larger pool of professionals with the right expertise and experience.
Clearly, there are distinct and quantifiable advantages of remote working for the employees as well as for the organizations. However, organizations are still concerned about its impact on the individual employee and team productivity. To consider large scale implementation of work from home organizations need to address these concerns in a planned and structured way. These measures could include support for the necessary infrastructure at home, providing the required digital tools and technical support, coaching and training managers and team leaders to manage remote teams, etc. Implemented in the right way, work from home has the potential to become of the biggest wins for organizations and integral to their business strategies.