Home from home?
As we head towards the next phase of the COVID-19 situation, many of us are contemplating the gradual easing of some of the restrictions previously imposed by our governments. Our thoughts and planning activities are, therefore, turning towards preparing for the next iteration of the ‘new normal’, which is likely to look somewhat different to the old one.
One common assumption is that the new normal will involve a continuation of the widespread home working that many of us have been doing for several weeks. However, whilst it’s tempting to think that everyone can just carry on doing so, we shouldn’t leap to this assumption before taking a good look at how successful it’s been.
For some it’s been a breeze and carrying on makes a lot of sense for them. But for others, home working just hasn’t worked. To quote one manager, for whom it hasn’t been so easy “we’re not working from home, we’re stuck at home trying to work”. Even some of those who were previously regular home workers have found a big difference between doing so for convenience when it suits them and being forced to do it for weeks on end.
We shouldn’t, therefore, be too hasty in thinking we can immediately drastically reduce our office space based on our assumptions about the brave new home working world. If nothing else, in the short to medium term, distancing measures are likely to result in the need for more space per person than before, and the use of hot-desking may be questionable in the current environment due to the potential for contaminated surfaces spreading the virus.
Employee surveys and post-incident reviews will help confirm how well, or otherwise, people have been able to work from home, along with any issues that impacted their ability to do so, gaps that had to be plugged and follow-up actions that still need to be completed to ensure our home working strategy is, and remains, robust.
Widespread home working may well provide a number of business benefits going forward but, as with any major changes to strategy, we should ensure we validate our assumptions before rushing headlong into implementation.