Remote Working is Here to Stay – Pros, Cons & Trends
Today, I am going to dive into the topic of remote working. Is it here to stay? I absolutely love remote working! I am going to talk about the pros, cons, and briefly look at emerging trends in remote working.
A study by the Office National Statistics showed, that there were more than 9.9 million people in the UK working from home between January to March 2022. Since the pandemic, more workers are choosing jobs that offer remote or hybrid working models. Some workers are leaving jobs that only offer the office-based model.
I believe that after workers experienced the benefits of working from home during the pandemic, the thought of returning to a busy open plan office is no longer an attractive option. The pandemic has demonstrated that the remote working model is effective and has many work-life balance benefits. Prior to the pandemic, it was common for managers and senior staff to work from home. However, office staff in support roles were not usually given the opportunity to work remotely pre-pandemic.
Towards the end of the first lockdown, many organisations began to implement new policies on new flexible working models:
Home workers have their home as their contractual base and are likely to only come into the office for check-ins and team meetings. Some organisations have given staff the option of changing their work contracts from office-based to a home worker.
Hybrid workers have a contract that states the employer’s office location is their base. Hybrid workers often work from a variety of locations within the organisation and from home. The hybrid worker generally works from between one and three days in the employer’s office location and at home for the remainder of the week.
Some employers have introduced a relaxed the dress code for remote working. However, staff are required dress appropriately when they engage with clients and service users via MS Teams and Zoom & Skype.
Pros of Remote Working
In February 2022, the Office of National Statistics reported that 84% of workers who worked from home during the pandemic said they planned to carry out a combination of working at home and the office in the future.
78% of those who worked from home reported an improved work life balance.
Half reported it was quicker to complete work (52%) and that they had fewer distractions (53%).
Almost half also reported improved well-being (47%)
50% spent less on fuel and parking for commuting (50%) and 40% said their spending on commuting on public transport had reduced
Cons of Remote Working
Remote working does not work for everyone. There may also be employees who for various reasons cannot or do not wish to be a hybrid or home worker. For example, some workers may not have a suitable space or environment to work in their home.
86% reported an increase in their spending on electric and gas bills
The pandemic has led to an increase in common, musculoskeletal back and neck pain, generally due to sitting uncomfortable chairs for a long period of time. Eric Robertson, a physical therapist and spokesperson for the American Physical Therapy Association pointed out that people are missing out on physical activity that they’d normally get from their commute to work: walking to office park car, walking to photocopier or walking to offices for meetings.
Lack of Boundaries between home and work.
Not having a designated workspace due to lack of space in the home.
Implications on tax relief and home insurance cover.
There has recently been criticism from government ministers regarding the productivity of the civil servants who are currently working from home. James Gray of the Express News recently questioned whether Government Minister, Jacob Rees-Mogg could legally force civil servants to return to their Westminster offices. Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency had been criticised for his request to civil servants to stop working from home. Jonathan Bennett, an associate solicitor at London based law firm Berkeley Rowe, informed James Gray of the Express News that the Civil Service, if it chose to, would be well within its rights to ask its employees to return to in-person working. Bennett said: “, an employer, in this case the Civil Service, can ask an employee to return to the office to work full time, providing that the employee’s employment contract provides for working in a specified place of work full time.
Growing Trends in Remote Working
Gaby Hinsliff recently wrote in the Guardian News that technology was helping people resist the gravitational pull of big cities and was a key part of ‘levelling up’ the country. Gaby also highlighted that according to a study led by Zoom and Indeed, the city of Stoke was Britain’s third biggest growth area for remote and flexible jobs, Many workers in small cities were now choosing to stay close to home where the living costs are lower and they have family support for childcare. Many workers in these towns could tap into the career opportunities in the big cities without have to uproot from their home base. They could work remotely for part of the week and commute to the big city for the remainder of the week. The study also identified hotspots for remote working and the growing trend of zoom towns in the UK; the study includes a league table of post-pandemic “zoom towns”.
In 2022 the city of Hull launched the Work Hull Work Happy project to promote Hull as the co-working capital of the UK:
There are now many global providers offering co-workers spaces and fully serviced private office space to help freelancers and entrepreneurs to collaborate and create their best work. Whether you need a single desk or a whole building for as little as a day, or a longer period.
Remote Working Visas More than 26 countries around the globe offer remote working visas, including, Barbados, Bermuda, Dubai, and Australia. In June 2020, the Barbados Government announced the introduction of the 12-month Barbados Welcome Stamp. This new remote work programme establishes a visa to allow people to work remotely in Barbados for a maximum of 12 months. The visa is available to anyone who meets the visa requirements and whose work is location independent, whether individuals or families.
No Going Back
One positive outcome from the pandemic is that remote working has been embraced by employers. Employees have more freedom of choice in their work location. I know of friends who will not take a job if they are required to work more than three days in the office. Working five days a week in the office is something of the past. I believe that employers will not attract best talent if they do not embrace remote working. It is evident that the pandemic has transformed the world of work permanently and It is unlikely to revert to the old model of working.
Quote of the Week
“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything” – George Bernard Shaw
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