However, the case for remote work post-pandemic has come under scrutiny - from industries such as hospitality and the night time economy in many cities that will suffer the long term effects of a less populous city, to outlier companies such as Goldman Sachs who refute the usefulness of remote working, it’s an emotive and challenging change to working status quo.
But remote work, in almost every aspect, is good for people:
- Less commuter spend = more money for leisure and spending,
- Less travel stress,
- More flexibility with home and family care,
- Location independence,
- Environmental impact,
- Flexible work schedules,
- Effective changes to communication,
- Avoid office politics,
The list goes on. At the core of remote working is the question of productivity. Does it remain high enough to keep companies growth orientated? 2020 answered that question. There was, and still are, many issues to work through post-pandemic, not least the return to a growth-focused economy, but people have adapted.
Of course there are issues that have arisen: managers have to battle with and offer solutions to severe isolation or mental health issues as a result of loneliness or lack of social connection; the question of work/life balance and not being available 24/7 due to working from home is another long term cultural change that needs to be addressed.
The lines cannot blur too heavily between your profession and your right to have a private space.
But many companies have used this opportunity to change their working culture for good, but permanently including remote work or hybrid working into their HR practice and workplace.
The UK, as the home of so many global brands, has seen a wave of companies look to remote work as the norm:
Lloyds of London
- The famous London banking and insurance group placed 50,000 of their 65,000 into remote work last year, and plan to continue this into 2021 and beyond.
- 700 staff are already full remote working, with further reviews planned for 2021. Lloyd’s of London chairman Bruce Carnegie-Brown commented “...In the longer term, we are likely to see a blended approach that enables the best of remote working with the benefits of a flexible work space.”
- Although still consulting with many employees Aviva have taken the flexible approach to remote working on board, with many staff working on a rotational basis - “We are combining office space in some locations and reducing the space in others. Our intention is to invest in our sites to provide a more vibrant, inspiring and flexible workspace for our people.”
- Although the retail giant will continue expanding their online orders, and after closing 16 stores permanently, their head office teams will turn remote.
- JLP have committed to adopting a “permanent 'blended' working model going forward, which will give head office Partners choice, trust and flexibility with where and how they work.”
- Polled staff members reported over 50% saying they wanted an increase in hybrid working and 30% approx wanted fully remote working. Revolut have also included a 2 month “working abroad” scheme for international workers to spend more time with family, whilst working.
- The high street bank have offered a range of flexible and home working structures for their staff, including working from local branches rather than travelling into HQ offices under their new “work anywhere” plan.
Joe Garner, chief executive of Nationwide, said: "The last year has taught many of us that 'how' we do our jobs is much more important than 'where' we do them from...we are putting our employees in control of where they work from, inviting them to 'locate for their day' depending on what they need to achieve."