Are you working smarter on Work from Home Day?
This Friday is National Work from Home Day, which is an annual celebration of the benefits of remote work. But as many of us spend at least part of every week working from home anyway, is it really still needed?
According to the organisers, it is. National Work from Home Day falls on Friday 20 May this year, and comes at the end of Work Wise Week. Apparently, one of the ways we can all work wisely is to stay at home, at least some of the time.
Many of us are still working remotely in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic, of course. But Work Wise UK, the nonprofit organisation that organises Work Wise Week, is clearly intent on making sure the progress made during Covid sticks for the long term.
“As our lives start to get back to some resemblance of normality will the way we work continue to change?” they ask. “Will we see the end of outdated working practices…? Or, will we revert to commuting to our place of work five days a week?”
Employees ordered back to the office
Clearly, there is a possibility that, as the acute stage of the Covid pandemic disappears in the rear view mirror, some organisations will start ordering their workforce back into the office full time.
In fact, it’s already happening. Jacob Rees-Mogg, the minister for government efficiency, recently insisted that civil servants return to the office, to “realise the benefits of face-to-face, collaborative working and the wider benefits for the economy.”
Similarly, James Gorman, chief of investment bank Morgan Stanley, explained his company-mandated return to the office policy to the Financial Times: “If you can go to a restaurant in New York City, you can come to the office,” he said.
But, while some organisations are demanding staff return to work, many others are taking a more pragmatic approach. In one survey, 76% of business respondents said they had shifted to a hybrid model, and only 11% of those said they will go back to the office full time eventually.
The benefits of remote work
Part of the role of National Work from Home Day is to publicise the benefits of remote work. That includes environmental benefits, thanks to a reduction in commuting, and financial benefits for employees, who are being hit by rising motoring and public transport costs.
But most of all, Work Wise UK believes working from home regularly is simply a smarter way of working. It helps employees fit work around other responsibilities, like caring for children or elderly parents. A more diverse working week can improve productivity.
The organisation states: “Cultural, economic and social changes are affecting attitudes to how we balance or mix work and lifestyle, where increasing mobility and technology is shifting the acceptance or need for traditional 9-5 work patterns, to be replaced by more flexible ways and periods of work.”
Technology drives hybrid work
It’s certainly true that many employees no longer need to travel to a central location every day to work effectively. The advent of cloud technology means we can all access the systems and tools we need from anywhere, whether that’s the company office or our converted back bedrooms.
Hosted unified communications is perhaps the best example of that. Good cloud communications solutions means employees can make or take professional business calls from anywhere, on any device. They also offer video calls, conferencing, chat and collaboration tools that let remote teams work together.
These services have changed the way we work and hugely increased the productivity of dispersed staff.
At the same time, there are clearly advantages to being in the office some of the time. Team building and nurturing a sense of company culture are usually more effective in person than over Zoom or Teams.
And we shouldn’t forget that some people just don’t have domestic setups that allow for productive work. That could be a question of space, noise or even internet bandwidth.
Equipping yourself for remote and office work
The norm for many companies is likely to be a hybrid solution, with an open office for anyone who needs to come in, and a semi-remote working policy for everyone else, with the stipulation that teams get together regularly in person.
To make that work, cloud communications and productivity tools are a must, alongside the connectivity to support them and the security to make sure remote access to your corporate network never risks your systems or data.
Which is perhaps something to think about on National Work from Home Day this year, wherever you happen to be working from. For many companies and employees, hybrid work is a good idea, but only if you have the systems and processes to support it.