Home Working – No Problem!
A blog by Eclectic Recruitment
The kitchen as our new office for the foreseeable
With the Covid-19 outbreak seeing many countries in the world in a state of lockdown. It is no surprise that all non “key workers” are now being asked to work from home for the foreseeable future. The reality of this advice is that for a sizeable amount of workers, this practice is more possible than it has ever been before. There are roles like ours in recruitment and many others that can be conducted for a short period from home. Interestingly, if this had occurred a mere 10 years earlier, this would not have been the case. In this blog, we explore the main reasons why a large number of employees can now still function from home.
The rise of conference/video calls: do we really need to be in the same office to interact with each other?
One of the main things that was holding back the work from home revolution was the perceived need for staff to attend vital meetings, appraisals or interviews that simply have to be done face to face. This belief is one that I strongly agreed with prior to the advancement of video calling platforms. A pioneering study by Albert Mehrabian from 1971 noted that at least 55% of communication is non-verbal. Hand signals and body language are crucial in how we get our point across in important discussions. Regular calls emails can of course fall foul to misinterpretation without accompanying tone and demeanour. However, with video calling platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Facetime being such a high quality. It’s now possible to have important discussions that are face to face without the people involved having to be in the same room!
The new normal…
In the last few days it has emerged that a video calling platform was used for Boris Johnson’s cabinet meeting on the coronavirus outbreak. Evidencing that such platforms are being entrusted to facilitate the countries most important meetings. I believe this is the strongest evidence available of just how advanced and practical these platforms are. According to Lifesize (www.lifesize.com) , 94% of businesses say video conferencing increases productivity. This finding can help explain why so many companies are investing in this technology. Such investment means that the global video conferencing market is worth around $6 billion as of 2019 per Transparency market research. With video calling now widely available in businesses across the globe, it is far easier to interact with colleagues. To attend meetings or simply to check in with colleagues for a chat is now possible remotely. Thus, this type of technology provided the first step in making working from home that much easier.
A further aid: All the information we need being available at our fingertips
Another thing that has allowed us to be more productive at home in recent years is the explosion in the use of CRM systems for collating data on clients, sales leads, employee activity, project progress etc. Per Rightscale, it is estimated that as many as 90% of corporations in the US employ some kind of centralised CRM system. As I touched upon in a prior blog on ‘how digitalisation is permanently changing the workplace (https://eclecticrecruitment.co.uk/digitalisation/) the large-scale use of CRM systems has really helped colleague collaboration and therefore overall productivity. This is because all the information many office workers require is now at their fingertips. No longer do workers have to scour through archives or files at the office or disrupt colleagues in order to attain the necessary information they need.
Information is just a click away…
Aside from making your team more productive. It also removes another barrier to working from home effectively. Employees do not need to be in the office to access the files and information they require to do their jobs. They have their ‘library’ if you like upon their laptop. This combined with the availability of a video calling app on that same laptop and a mobile phone means that the modern office worker has all the tools they need to work as effectively from home as in the office if need be.
The final hurdle: ‘Working from Home’ finally being embraced by employers
We have now established throughout this piece that we have in the last 4 or 5 years had the tools to work as effectively from home as in the office if need be. Yet there had remained a rather natural concern ever since the idea was first floated in the 1990’s. Somebody without direct observation and in the comfort of their own home may be less productive. The roll out of trials in the 2010’s set out to alleviate the doubts of employers regarding remote working.
From trial to implementation…
The mass trialling of the concept saw overwhelmingly high levels of success. Productivity was often monitored to ensure that output didn’t drop. For example: handing remote workers a checklist of objectives for the day to see if they are met. With these measures of accountability in place, the home environment proved that it did not have a detrimental effect. Several studies, such as that by Business News Daily even suggested that working from home even helped boost productivity. This was explained by those working from home working for longer in the comfort of their own homes and free from the distractions provided by the office environment.
The bottom line: The office workplace is now as adaptable and therefore as resistant to challenges as ever
With widespread access to CRM systems and video calling platforms and employers now convinced that it does not torpedo their worker’s productivity. There are now 373,000 more employees working from home weekly in the UK in 2020 compared to 2010 according to TUC. The fact that so many people are working effectively from home in 2020 no doubt encouraged the government’s current approach. If home working is possible for companies for 2 or 3 days a week. Why can’t it be possible for 5 days a week during an emergency situation such as this? What is more, a recent study by Zapier found that of almost 900 US office workers, 95% want to have the option to work from home. This is not a situation that will frustrate the employee too much. Providing we can get along with those whom we share our houses with!
So, in conclusion. Although this is not an ideal situation and working from home has been imposed upon us. We have never been better equipped to deal with this situation than we are at current. I’m confident that this arrangement will keep employees productive. Whilst (most importantly) we are all kept safe and can hopefully return to normality in the near future!
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