From Elon Musk’s recent remarks about homeworking to reports some staff face a 20 per cent pay cut by working from home, it’s clear the pressure to return to the office on a more permanent basis continues to grow. But I’m convinced hybrid working, combining a mix of the office and home, is here to stay for the foreseeable future, with perhaps no going back to pre-Covid working practices for many companies.
There are lots of reasons why people should return to their office desks, including team and culture building as well as impromptu information sharing. Equally there are many reasons why standard office hours are a thing of the past for people and roles that thrive on a more personal and focussed environment. Creating more flexibility often provides the best of both worlds.
Anyone working for automotive and clean energy giant Tesla seems to have limited homeworking options. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, has reportedly ordered staff to return to the office full-time, declaring that working remotely is no longer acceptable. He has said that everyone at Tesla is required to spend a minimum of 40 hours in the office per week.
I’ve also been reading articles about how staff at a top London law firm have been told they can work from home permanently – but they will have to take a 20 per cent pay cut.
There’s lots of economic reasons why a full return to the office will breathe new life into wider business communities such as shops, cafes and bars. There’s obviously a lot of associated real estate costs to consider too especially if too much office space remains empty on long term leases. Face–to-face interaction is crucial too, not just to catch up on the latest office gossip!
But technology such as video conferencing is now a proven alternative to the office commute and I would argue it is generally just as – if not more – productive and effective to work from anywhere suitable, including outside the standard 9-5 hours. Work is now what you do not where you go. Working from home can help with sky high fuel prices, traffic delays, time and the work life balance. Plus there’s the environmental impact too.
In addition, flexible working is already a key recruitment tool to maintain and attract new staff and I think this will be a growing factor to shape future work trends. Several surveys seem to back this up too.
A whopping 75 per cent of Londoners say they will never return to the office full time after experiencing homeworking. Around 80 per cent felt working away from the office had a positive impact. For me, it’s easy to see why.
Another important factor is the impact and ramifications on other staff if they can’t all work flexibly. Many organisations have already recognised that to recruit and retain their best talent, they have to offer competitive terms which now include flexible working clauses.
The four-day working week is another interesting concept which seems to be gaining momentum. This will further break the chains of Monday to Friday office life and will require wider flexibility.
Wherever people work they need the right conditions to perform to their best – and have an equal voice especially when joining meetings remotely. Meeting equity really matters.
Another factor for companies to consider is do they invest in dedicated in room PC-based conferencing or wish staff to bring their own laptop and start a video call on apps of their choice. Konftel now provides a choice for both.
Clearly in terms of the general homeworking outlook, one size doesn’t fit all and there’s currently lots of fluidity in the market. Every company has to operate in the best way for themselves and their workforce. Whilst one particular company might have all their staff back in the office, their suppliers might not, so that will mean remote meetings are still required.
Choice is good, however and wherever people work. But there’s no time frame or any certainty that we are going back to the way the world was before.