Understanding the impact of remote working – Indigo 21

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Understanding the impact of remote working

Understanding the impact of remote working

A green wooden chair in an empty white walled room

April 15, 2024

Four years have passed since the explosion of remote working. In 2020, working from home wasn’t yet the norm. And the figures speak for themselves: in January 2020, just 5.7% of workers reported working from home, which shot up to 43.1% by April 2020.

Now, in 2024, many organisations are planning full returns to the office. Many office buildings in London stand empty for most of the working week — according to Remit Consulting, office occupancy rates are at 35%, and drop as low as 20% on Fridays as workers continue to skip the commute in favour of working from home. We’ve discussed the business changes post-pandemic before, but a year on, has anything changed?

Return to work vs. work from home

Many businesses are keen to return to the predictably full offices that dominated cities before April 2020. But how are workers responding? In some instances, they aren’t taking it well, leading some organisations to decide to mandate the return to work, by creating policies to ensure workers return to the office full time.

In a survey carried out by Scalable with 2,000 UK knowledge workers, including IT professionals, 35% reported feeling resentment at being told they must return to the office for a certain number of days. Another 62% said their employer has “productivity paranoia” over staff working from home. These worrying figures suggest an imbalance of trust on both sides that needs addressing.

Responses to the study show some interesting points, too. Forty percent of people surveyed said that hybrid working makes their job more difficult, thanks to challenges with home offices, including using digital tools and technology. These challenges are leaving HR departments struggling to understand how to best support a disparate workforce.

Easier in the office?

This all leads to the question of: how can you support your teams if they don’t feel comfortable coming back to work? You can argue that the benefits of working together and in person far outweigh the benefits of working remotely.

Team morale

This is hard to maintain remotely, even with the best tools available. Teams that are present together can celebrate successes together, commiserate about the things that didn’t go so well and find a solution in the future.

Collaborative work

There’s nothing like the experience of getting people around a table and solving problems together. While online collaborative tools are useful, nothing really beats working together in person.

Reduced costs

Business owners will understand the importance of saving money, and why bother heating and lighting an empty building? It’s far better to have the team on-site and ready to collaborate.

How to get your team back in the office

Getting teams back into the office is going to take a bit more effort than a pizza Friday or free coffees. You need to get them back on your side and feelings of trust need to improve for everyone to work comfortably together. So how can you work towards a full, happy office again?

1.   Ask people what they want

A simple first step is asking your teams how they want to work from the office. Can you accommodate their needs? Does a working week need to look the same as it did pre-pandemic? Find out what is motivating your teams and, where it’s practical, build your strategy around them.

2.   Create opportunities to be social

Those water cooler moments are important to your teams. Experiment with team social days, team building activities and find ways to get people together again. Can you rearrange office furniture to create a more sociable space?’

3.   Foster a collaborative environment

Working together is powerful. Make space for collaboration within your teams to avoid silos and miscommunication. Can you make changes to the physical space to create collaborative workspaces or breakout rooms?

4.   Don’t be afraid to try new things

You won’t know what works until you try. There’s no guidebook for getting teams back into the office, so don’t be afraid to experiment and find out what works for you. Your team will appreciate a range of options more than a hard and fast mandate.

How can outsourcing help employees return to work?

If you’ve done everything you can to entice teams back to the office but they still don’t want to come in person, you can consider getting additional support via outsourcing. By outsourcing teams or even full functions, you can regain the business stability you need to operate best, and can provide extra support for teams feeling overstretched or concerned about returning to work. Talk to Indigo 21 today to find out how we can support you on your outsourcing journey.

Sources

https://wiserd.ac.uk/publication/homeworking-in-the-uk-before-and-during-the-2020-lockdown/

https://www.thenationalnews.com/opinion/uk/2024/02/21/city-of-londons-empty-offices-are-gripped-in-a-growing-real-estate-crisis/

https://indigo21.com/how-the-business-landscape-haschanged-post-pandemic/

https://indigo21.com/the-real-cost-of-hybrid-working/

https://indigo21.com/solutions/

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