Businesses could be about to see sweeping changes to the way they operate every day, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
With offices forced to close in line with government guidelines, almost half of the UK’s workforce has been working from home over the past few months. Now, it seems this shift may not be a temporary one, with businesses and their employees instead moving to a new, more flexible way of working.
These changes are expected to come across all manner of companies, with even some of the largest firms already anticipating an end to traditional working patterns. Barclays CEO Jes Staley said “the notion of putting 7,000 people in a building may be a thing of the past”, whilst Sir Martin Sorrell explained that he’d rather invest millions of pounds in people rather than buildings.
Such changes could provide a much greater work-life balance for employees, who can organise their days more flexibly and do away with expensive, stressful and time-consuming commutes. But there are still considerations to be made. Arguably the most important is technology, with each worker needing to have the tools and equipment at their disposal to do their job no differently to how they would in the office.
There’s also societal factors to consider. Professor Andre Spicer, from City University’s Cass Business School, told the BBC how some people will spend their whole working life trying to catch the eye of their boss, to make sure they’re seen to be working.
Another consideration is the drop in socialising that comes with being in an office full of people. However, many companies have put measures in place to ensure their teams stay connected. These range from regular meetings held on Microsoft Teams or Zoom, to fun activities such as online quizzes or social check-ins.
Of course, this permanent change is far from guaranteed. The government has already advised staggered start times, one-way systems and social distancing within office spaces, to allow people to go back towards some semblance of their old routines. However, it’s still wise for businesses and employees alike to prepare themselves for how our working futures may look, in case these changes do indeed come to pass.