So, we’re not quite on lockdown but the powers that be seem pretty serious about forcing people to become more socially responsible in self-isolating, and with no clear resolution in sight could this fundamentally change how businesses operate in the future?
With news reports of how nature is loving this respite from all our travelling to and fro, and with people suddenly getting used to setting their own hours (and possibly putting in more actual hours of productive work), will bosses find the profits of a distributed work force whilst saving money on heating and powering a central work environment enticing going forward?
This vastly increases where their employees can live as there is no travelling to the office, which ensures they can pick from the best candidates, and with no office pressure to compete with productive hours people will tend to do that little bit extra to ensure their boss knows they are worth keeping.
There are still stumbling blocks, not least of which is our creaking broadband infrastructure, BT infinity might reach the box at the end of our road, but the last mile is still being transferred via the original copper cable, and Virgins optical broadband services mainly cities. As to connectivity, the clouds reliability still must be proven over the long term.
There is also the question of manageability, how easy to maintain a positive and forward-looking energy with people scattered to the four winds.
This issue is to do with Corporate Identity, a company culture is fostered by all the employee’s coming together and solidifying this image to those outside; and branding, as every good salesman knows, is everything. Plus, if an employee identifies with that culture, they will do their best in service to it, to maintain what they and their colleagues believe in. Remote working is not conducive to maintaining that solidarity as their communication is reduced to instant messaging and the occasional video or voice call.
But from a positive perspective, staff retention increases as they are less stressed:
- No need to find childcare in antisocial hours
- The loss of a daily commute gives them more time with the family when it matters
- No office politics or distractions
- Less sick days because even when slightly off they will tend to still put in hours
- More productive to ensure they’re keeping up with their co workers
So, in conclusion, with the advances in Office 365, SharePoint and utilising Teams to manage the workforce, management can see far more immediately what their employees are doing, how and when. Employees generally take their work more seriously and less travel benefits the environment and health of the workforce. So, dependant on how long the current situation goes on for, the future work environment may look like a very different place.