The Government has indicated that it wishes to steer people back to the workplace to regain some kind of ‘norm’ post Coronavirus, with employers consulting with their staff whether it’s still viable for them to continue to work from home.
Supporting this, the head of Barclays has recently said that he wants Barclays employees that have been working from home during the pandemic to slowly return to their offices, following a reported drop in this year’s pre-tax profits.
However, many employers, including other high street banks, still believe that home working for staff is something that may continue well into the future, becoming the new ‘norm’.
Our previous blog has discussed the considerations that employers must address to ensure the wellbeing of their employees working from home. But if this is to continue on a truly long-term basis, there could be further less binding, but equally important, implications for both parties.
Productivity: team productivity and working collaboratively can be enhanced when a team is all together in one location. Even if not directly working together, an awareness of what’s happening and ‘bouncing off’ the energy created from within the room can be a very real benefit to improved teamwork.
New employees: working remotely can be a challenge for new employees. Creating their own sense of purpose, understanding the roles and responsibilities of those in their work sphere and integrating themselves into a team is significantly more difficult for some when working remotely.
Support, education and training: this becomes less easy to ask for, and can also take longer to become an identified need. Asking a quick question from a colleague that might otherwise have been asked across a desk is much less easy when working remotely. And formal support needs such as product training, customer services training, process training and so on, is more difficult for managers to identify when working remotely.
Understanding and developing company culture: culture is described as ‘the way we do things around here’. It’s also been likened to ‘the nose on your face. You can’t see it, but you follow it around’. Some business managers argue that unless physically present, company culture cannot develop and flourish. We would counter this by saying that culture will develop and flourish, but it will be different to a culture where teams are physically together.
There are many issues for business leaders to consider before issuing a dictum that staff may, indeed should, work from home for the foreseeable future. Aside from the legal implications, these intrinsic issues need to be understood before any decisions are made.