Months of working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic has left many itching to get back into the office, whether for the space, ease, socialization opportunities or more. Yet there are many that have also enjoyed the flexibility working from home includes, finding that the lack of a commute, autonomy over schedule and more time with family, has revealed a optimal working environment that they would like to keep a hold of after the return to normality.
Some will prefer to work from home permanently – with some companies already offering that option, but others may prefer to work from home on a flexible basis, some days in the office, others at home. What is the current climate for flexible home working?
In the USA, flexible working from home is becoming quite desirable. According to statistics collated on Small Biz Genius, 4.3 million people in the USA already work from home for at least half of the time, and ‘40% of people feel the greatest benefit of remote work is the flexible schedule.’ Also adding that: ‘75% of people who work remotely do so because there are fewer distractions, 76% of workers would be more willing to stay with their current employer if they could work flexible hours… 86% of people feel that working remotely reduces stress and people who work remotely at least once a month are 24% more likely to be happy and productive.’
The trend is increasing, and perhaps even more so since the pandemic, SmallBizGenius reporting that ‘the number of people who work from home has increased by 140% since 2005.’
In the UK, Huffington Post reported that,
‘Surveying 1,500 Brits, office pod designers Meavo found 74% of the 1,500 Brits surveyed miss the human interaction provided by offices – but over a third agree working two or three days a week in the office is likely to be the new norm. Claire McCartney, a senior policy adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), says companies are on board, too. “We expect those offering home working on a regular basis to double in comparison to pre-pandemic levels, which represents a shift, from 30% to 60%,” she says.
If the predicted boom in flexible working takes place, it could contribute an extra £148 billion to the UK economy by 2030, says McCartney, adding: “Such forecasts could help convince employers to embrace this future.”’
If you are hoping to begin working from home on a part-time flexible basis there are a few things you should consider before approaching your employer. Which days would benefit productivity if you were in the office and which days at home? Are there face-to-face meetings or brainstorming sessions on certain days that would benefit you being in the office? If you have personal arrangements to consider, such as childcare, this is also important to incorporate into your flexible-work plan.
If you are looking to convince your employer to allow for a flexible working environment – highlight how it may benefit you and your organization whilst also tackling any issues that may arise.
Also consider whether your workspace at home and in the office is set up for flexible home working. There are plenty of new technologies that allow for a digital working environment – allowing users to access and edit documents on an interconnected system, conduct meetings virtually, redirect calls and so forth. If the transition between home and your workplace is seamless it will make for a more attractive arrangement for both you and your employer.
It wouldn’t be worth working from home if every day you spend precious time setting up work from the office at home and visa versa. Employers may also need to consider whether your home set-up complies with their health and safety standards – whether your desk space is ergonomically designed to prevent injury.
Although ultimately whether or not you will be able to work from home and the ability to do so will ultimately be down to your employer. Bloomberg reported: ‘Businesses need to avoid giving the illusion of flexibility while still expecting staff to put in long hours and be responsive at irregular times, according to research by the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at KCL and employee advisory firm Karian and Box. Almost all organizations polled said they are planning for a future involving hybrid work — split between home and office locations — though just 36% are redesigning job roles with more flexibility in mind. Without more targeted support, parents and carers in particular risk erasing the boundaries between work and home life and seeing their workload increase, the survey said.’