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When Working From Home Doesn’t Work...

It can be difficult to know what measures to put in place when trying to organise your team post COVID, mitigating the divide between those who prefer working from home and those who crave face to face interaction in an office space.

In January, we conducted a survey as part of our 2021 Office Outlook which revealed that one in five workers felt that their mental wellbeing was better, when they were office based. A further 34% said that they missed their commute to and from the office as it provided a well earned chance to wind down and switch off from work. 

But, it is important to recognise that some people do work better when working from home. Our Office Outlook research also found that of those surveyed, 1 in 4 workers expect to work from home for the foreseeable future.

But is this the best option for your business and employees? 

What Should You Be Aware Of When Deciding If Continued Working From Home Is The Right Move For Your Business? 

1.    Repetitive Task Don't Get Done as Well At Home 

Whilst many roles that have switched to remote working are working well, some aren’t. Many think that jobs that require repetitive tasks (such as data entry roles) could actually be hindered by remote working. 

Why? Working from home is notorious for providing many distractions. Think TV, video games, pets, domestic work and so on. Employees who complete repetitive tasks as part of their role are more prone to being distracted by the comforts of home than they would be in an office working space. 

2.    Missed Opportunities for Collaboration

In an article by Jerry Useem for The Atlantic, he detailed how global giants IBM had pioneered the first examples of remote workers. Back then, it was referred to as ‘telecommuting’. However, IBM is now requesting that staff members work in a collaborative office - much like their competitors at Apple, in order to create and innovate new ideas. 

Certainly, it seems that those holding creative and innovative roles in IT or Marketing may miss many opportunities to ‘bounce’ ideas off one another which could be detrimental to business.

3.    Mental Health

The impact the global pandemic has had on mental health is not yet fully known. However, the absence of physical social interaction with team members, family and friends will almost certainly play a big part in the nation's overall mental health. 

In a recent article, the mental health charity Mind said “the coronavirus pandemic has caused exceptionally challenging and worrying times for each and every one of us. The effects of social distancing, lockdown, the loss of loved ones and the over-consumption of stress-inducing media reports is taking a huge toll on our mental health and wellbeing”.

Mind went on to state that two thirds (65%) of adults and three quarters (75%) of young people with experience of mental health problems said their mental health has gotten worse during lockdown. 

Certainly, this causes major disruptions and costs for businesses who rarely considered mental health before. In our 2021 Office Outlook, we found that larger corporations seemed to be able to provide better services for remote individuals suffering a decline in their mental health status. 

For example, Universities have been taking steps to ensure that a range of services is available to support student mental health and well-being. While the pandemic has presented challenges to the provision of in-person support, only a quarter of students (28 per cent), report that remote support is not as beneficial meeting in person - while the majority says it is.

However, the same cannot be said for small businesses that are already suffering the reverberating impact of COVID. Many simply cannot afford to provide employees with equipment, resources and subsequent help to overcome these challenges. 

So Is Continued WFH The Right Choice For Your Business?

What is certain is that working from home is not right for everyone. This is especially true for start-ups and small, medium enterprises who are still suffering from the financial impacts of COVID. It can also be true for creatively led roles that require collaboration and idea generation sessions, something that scheduled video conferencing cannot fully replace.  

For more information regarding whether continued WFH is the right choice for your business, download our 2021 office outlook now.

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