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The Impact of COVID-19 on Working life: Work from Home, a temporary fix or here to stay?

Antony Woodcock - Managing Director

For years recruitment and HR has been awash with the phrase “work life balance”, this eternal search for the perfect blend between managing our personal lives and our professional responsibilities. For some it was simply unrealistic, wishful thinking of a new generation “who don’t know they are born”. Some businesses dipped their toe in the water, played with idea but broadly speaking very few were prepared to jump off the high board into the deep end…the fear? People won’t be as productive working unsupervised from home as they will be in an office.

Like all good things, which come to those who wait, it is no doubt an inevitability that the way in which we have all been forced to work over the past year would have become the norm on its own buts it’s no secret that CV19 has of course turbo charged the rate at which we have been forced to accept and adopt new ways of working and removed the age old comfort blanket of “if it ain't broke don’t fix it” as an excuse to simply trundle along as we always have and fight change.

“59 per cent of people would still prefer to spend more than half their working week at home, despite government calls for office-based workers to return.” Survey by Zurich Insurance

Now I am by no means saying that the past year is a prime example of the work life balance in action, if anything it’s tipped the scale too far in the other direction by stripping us of most if not all social interaction that forms such a key part of our professional lives as well as our personal ones but what it has done is answer the questions that were perhaps holding us back from previously embracing change; 1. Not every meeting has to be done face to face and you can essentially take part in a meeting from anywhere, although some people have also had to find out the hard way that certain places, no matter the world we live in will never be appropriate. Virtual meetings can be just as productive as physical ones. 2. Working from home is no less productive than working from an office and in fact the majority of people are more productive.

“62% of people work more productive at home and 45% of employers have said that people are working more collaboratively from home than in person” Survey by Talk Talk

The questions that remains is its impact on mental health. Lockdown has been a struggle for us all in this regard and not exactly the perfect test environment to help answer such a question. My view however is that in a normalish world, where I can still go to the pub with my friends, the benefits of having flexibility in ones working life will surely have a much more positive impact on our state of mind? Employee benefits such as gym memberships etc. have been on the rise in recent years in an attempt to aid and promote wellness and ensure employees are being looked after from a physical/mental perspective and not just a financial one but wouldn’t we be even happier if we didn’t only have access to such services outside of office hours and instead had the ability to plan our own days around our meetings and workload.

Lloyds Banking Group says it plans to shed 20% of its office space. Earlier this week, HSBC said it would get rid of 40%.” The Independent

Whatever reservations may remain for some, it's clear that WFH for many is here to stay and personally, whilst at the minute we all just want out the house, in the long run I think we will all soon be working in a much healthier way than ever before.

Antony Woodcock - Managing Director, GIG


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