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Remote working and the future of work (and even training!)

Written by Alun John

Alun founded Marketing Tom and delivers some of its courses.

December 21, 2020

It’s been a long nine months and for most of us (well, those who work behind a desk!) we  have spent it working remotely from home. With the vaccine on the horizon what does the future of home/office working look like? And, what percentage of us actually want to go back to the office?

When the pandemic first started I was happily delivering courses from either our Cardiff venue or, at least once a month, from a central London location. Today, all of my training takes place via Zoom or Teams or WebEx. The same applies to our tutors who are spread out across south Wales – all delivering from their homes. What has been quite interesting is that our geographic spread has increased and we have had attendees from North and Mid Wales, the north of England, the Southwest, London, Belgium, Poland and, of course, South Wales!

But, with vaccines being deployed, and new ones being authorised, will this way of working become the ‘new normal’?

The recruitment firm Hays, working alongside the Chartered Institute of Marketing, conducted a survey which looked at marketers’ attitudes to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic. It found some very interesting results:

  • 55% say that they will request to continue working remotely
  • Only one in five say they either won’t request flexible working (14%) or say it’s not possible because of their job (5%)
  • The proportion which won’t request flexible working is highest among the under 25s (32%) and lowest among the over 55s (9%)

Whilst the stats may surprise some people, other surveys have found even higher numbers of people wanting to work from home. An Iometrics/Global Workplace Analytics’ Global Work-From-Home Experience Survey found that:

Seventy-six percent of global office workers and 82% of U.S. office workers say they want to continue to work from home, at least weekly, when the pandemic is over (approximately 75 million U.S. employees).

And what about the benefits of home working?

In a Harvard Business Review article (Our Work-from-Anywhere Future) Prithwiraj (Raj) Choudhury highlights how companies like Twitter, Facebook, Shopify and Siemens have all decided that they will make remote work permanent even after the vaccines are available. For individuals these were some of the benefits that he identified:

  • The ability to live anywhere in the world
  • Better quality of life – for some people this might include the ability to live where they want, whilst for young people it might mean that they become digital nomads.
  • Cost of living was another factor for some people – just consider the cost of buying/renting a house in different parts of the UK or the world.
  • Immigration issues might factor in for others

He further went on to identify benefits for organisations and these included:

  • Employee engagement
  • Workers are more productive
  • Office space costs (obviously) go down
  • Employee churn rate goes down

Whilst it’s obvious to focus on employees and the organisation, the author has also considered the impact on society and some of these benefits include:

  • The brain drain which occurs in many parts of the country could be slowed down
  • The environment benefits – less commuting = a cleaner environment

I’m not sure where but I read an article which said that the pandemic has condensed 10 years of development – in terms of how remote learning might have played out – into nine months. It goes without saying that work will never quite be the same after the pandemic has played out but it will be interesting to see how companies adopt what they have experienced over the last nine months and incorporate that into their ‘new normal’.

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