There is highly likely that work from home may continue for a long time post-COVID for at a significant segment of the workforce. In fact, many experts are of the opinion that Work from Home might be the new normal post-COVID.
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 enables employees to schedule their tasks flexibly, sot that they have time for their personal chores. They can start work early or late, or work flexibly to balance time with family and other activities.
Also, the time saved in commuting can be utilized as personal time or even towards work. Employees may even choose to relocate to their hometowns, so that they can be close to their families.
Working from home can help employees save the money 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.
Work from home employees are less likely to feel the stress of commuting and of being away from their loved ones especially if someone at home needs care.
Employees can save a significant amount of time every day that would have been spent normally 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 even result in better performance of employees and faster career progression.
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 concept, many organizations may think of continuing with work from home even after the crisis subsides.
They have seen work from home in action for the last several months and understood its benefits and the risks. Already, corporates such as TCS and Infosys have announced plans to allow employees to continue working from home even afterwards.
There are several advantages of Work from Home that organizations are seeing the key ones are as follows:
It reduces the need for organizations to invest in or maintain physical workplaces infrastructure and facilities. They can cut down energy costs considerably, besides saving on other costs such as transportation, canteen, housekeeping etc.
Moreover, organizations need to provide several benefits to their employees when at a dedicated workplace. Even if organizations provide allowances to work from home employees for high-speed internet and power backup at home, they can still save significantly.
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 carry high risk of road accidents, crime and pollution. Thus, working from home ensures better health and safety of employees.
Though the COVID-19 crisis was one-off, cities there are many natural calamities and man-made disasters that happen from time to time such as heavy rains and floods, smog and bush fires, etc. as well as incidents like protests, riots, etc. Work from home can become an integral part of the business continuity plans of most organizations.
It reduces risk of losing best performers if they are unable to come to the workplace everyday for health or family reasons.
By enabling remote working for them, organizations enable them to take care of their personal needs and responsibilities without leaving. This also deepens their sense of belonging and loyalty to the organization. Such employees are likely to be more committed, dedicated and loyal the organization.
One big benefit of remote working is that it provides organizations with a wider pool of talent to hire from. From freelancers to professionals who cannot follow a typical 9-to-5 work schedule, or even new mothers forced who need 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 work from home, organizations need to address these concerns in a planned and structured way.
These measures would include providing necessary infrastructure at home, digital tools, technical support, proper training to supervisors 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.
Read about how to implement Work from Home effectively.
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