Coronavirus – the end of office culture?
Coronavirus continues to spread, forcing businesses to utilise remote working. Furthermore, it has sparked debate about the future of work in general. In recent years, the amount of people across the globe working remotely has shot up by 173 percent. However, only 10 percent of people work from home in Europe.
While many managers have been resistant in the past, the Government’s orders have meant they’ve had no choice – remote working, where possible, has simply become obligatory.
However, are these merely temporary measures or is office culture changing for good? When self-isolation is lifted, will we be returning to company headquarters permanently or will businesses feel working from home is better?
Working from home – an essential perk
If you could take a stroll to some of the world’s biggest headquarters today, the first thing you’d notice is the silence.
Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter’s buildings are all closed down. Their employees? All working from home. Throughout February, 77 public companies on the global stock market mentioned working from home in transcripts…the previous record was 11.
So if the world’s most successful companies have embraced the ‘virtual office’, why are some businesses against remote working? Trust issues, the difficulties in collaborating and communicating, distractions from home and maintaining concentration are all high-ranking cons.
However, coronavirus or not, it seems being more open to remote working will soon become essential if businesses want to recruit top talent.
A recent report stated that 74 percent of employees would be willing to quit a job to work from home, while 57 percent say the option to work remotely is the one perk they’d most like to be offered by an employer.
The benefits of remote work
Bryan Borzykowski, Founder, Editorial Director at ALLCAPS Content, is used to working from home. He foresaw the rise of remote working over a decade ago, and has since spent his working days in his own makeshift office.
“At first, I used the kitchen table,” Bryan laughs. “But it can be hard to turn off your work brain if your office is the same place you eat dinner.”
Lesson one, he says, is find a good space. “Find somewhere you don’t use much of,” Bryan states. “Somewhere you can leave behind when the day is done.”
A more obvious issue with remote working is staying motivated, but Bryan feels people actually work harder when they’re at home.
“I timed myself once and found I did about five hours of work in an office compared to eight at home. At the office, I’d get in at 9am, catch up with people for a while, have a 60-minute lunch break, go for a coffee at 3pm and leave at five.
“At home, I’m at my desk for 7.45am and work until around 4.30pm. You’ll be surprised by just how much more work you can get done at home.”
The tools you need to work from home
“I can butt in on anyone by using Slack.”
So says Rebecca Armstrong, CEO of independent ad agency North. For her, working remotely doesn’t mean the end of spontaneous creativity and meaningful conversations. Far from it.
“I’ve heard it said business requires us to convene and solve problems face to face, and it’s an argument I’ve made myself in the past, but technology allows us to do this now,” she urges.
Slack is just one way your business can thrive during remote working, imposed or not. For video meetings, many look to Skype and Google Hangouts. Tasks and project management can be tracked via software such as Asana and Trello.
Those already familiar with social media will quickly get to grips with Facebook Workplace, which incorporates the site’s usual options in a business context.
The ongoing Coronavirus outbreak has also seen Google and Microsoft grant access to a range of teleconferencing and collaboration tools in order to make it easier for people to work from home.
The tools, usually only available to enterprise customers, are available for free for a limited time only.
A new way of working
The current crisis remains a huge challenge to society, but it also gives businesses the chance to try a new way of working. Whether the coronavirus pandemic will endure for weeks or months remains to be seen, but it could mean the transition to remote work happens a lot quicker for businesses.
If you’re looking for additional support for your business while working from home, BCU Advantage can connect you to knowledge, skills, facilities and funding to help you Start, Grow or Innovate your business.