In recent weeks, we have seen Covid-19, first quietly, and then with all its might, creep into our lives. The pandemic has brought to bear our deepest fears and taken our dearest once from us without proper goodbyes. Lives have been lost, and so have livelihoods. We have been forced to shut ourselves in, without social lives and wash our hands at the slightest touch of anything foreign.
Who has suffered most?
Perhaps, the biggest victims of this pandemic, have been, businesses. As we find ourselves under lock, only essential businesses survive. On the 23rd of March, in an attempt to quell the spreading of the virus, the British Prime Minister announced the “the stay at home” order. He went on to say: “you must stay at home if you are unable to work from home”. Here in the UK, the ONS reports that 25% of businesses have since closed due to Covid-19, 40% foresee short-term operations with lower staff, and another 29% predict lower hours.
For those that seek to weather this storm, work-from-home policies seem the saviour to business continuity in the face of COVID-19. Working from home has become the “buzz phrase” associated with businesses. In fact, according to Google Trends, at the beginning of March, the most searched phrase was “How to work from home”.
Which sector has benefitted the most?
Pre-Covid-19, working from home was a luxury to many employees – many pointed to it as a way to live a happier life and well-balanced work-life. As it stands, professionals in the tertiary sector, have managed to employ work-from-home practice with much ease due to the inherent nature of their jobs. The primary and secondary sectors on the other hand, have been struggling to adapt to working from home, where possible.
How have businesses adapted?
Many companies have been forced to allow their employees to work from home. Historically, employers have enjoyed “monitoring” employee output directly. This goes back a couple of hundred years during the industrial revolution where physical presence was required to complete a job. Unfortunately, Covid-19 has rendered this impossible. Employers have been forced to give credence to employees in managing working hours and output. Survival has meant empowering employees to manage their own working hours. While skype, zoom calls and all sorts of tech use have increased exponentially, these have not been enough to par with the level of control that employers once proudly held on to.
Has this always been the case?
There has always been strong opposition to the traditional work-in-office policy. Many have argued that spending 40 hours in the office every week interferes with their work-life balance. In addition, the constant routine can also have an impact on mental health, which consequently brushes off enthusiasm, creativity and productivity.
The case for working from home
Imagine waking up in the morning, having your bath in relaxation with a CBD bath bomb, having breakfast, not spending hours on choosing the right dress and just going straight to your home setup workspace. That would be fantastic!
Working from home would encourage many people to be independent, feeling empowered. All the hours spent commuting, worsened by the hassle of it, will be put into good use. Be it for extra sleeping hours, morning yoga or playing with the children, every household activity seems less stressful compared to the equivalent hours spend rushing to jump on to packed trains at 7 am on a wet morning. Productivity is bound to increase.
Working from home does boost a healthy lifestyle and it allows employees to save money. According to Finder, Londoners are saving £57.78 per week in commuting costs. What more could Londoners want?
Avoiding travel to work has reduced the emission of CO2. According to an article published on 24th March by The Independent, “Air quality has started to improve in many UK cities” mirroring what has been seen in many other countries that have been affected by Covid-19.
To sum all in a few words, a business can be conducted in an environmentally conscious way that not only improves the wellbeing of the planet but minimizes associated risks to human health from air pollution. Benefits directly accruing to businesses include no office cost, increased staff retention and higher morale.
How will the story play out
Businesses will be forced to maintain and adopt a work-from-home policy as the Covid-19 keeps us under lock. Earlier this week Prof. Chris Whitty, Government’s Chief Medical Officer said: “social distancing would need to remain in place until at least the end of the year”. As technology evolves traditional work will be replaced with remote work. The location will no longer determine the efficiency of work.
Working from home is the future, and businesses will make this work since their medium-term survival depends on it.