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Working from Home: One Year in Review

By 24/03/2021No Comments

When recruiting, if you’re not adapting to working trends along with the nation, someone else will. So how is the working world settling into its new routine after a year of lockdowns and restrictions?

Whilst many think people prefer working from home, you’ll actually find there are mixed opinions. Some like ditching the commute and having flexibility, others miss face-to-face interaction and getting out of the house.

Office design experts, Diamond Interiors, have reviewed a chaotic working year to see how the nation has adapted and predicts what’s next for the working world.

What has working from home changed for good?

Flexibility certainly sticks out as a big winner. Without a doubt, people are appreciating the ability to spend more time at home, especially those with children. Businessman and founder of the Virgin Group, Richard Branson has been pushing CEOs to adopt more flexible working models even before the pandemic:

“I’m a big believer that with the technology we have today, balancing family and business should be easier, not harder. Both partners should be able to work, realize their potential and raise a family; and flexible working enables people … to do this.”

Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, sees “the future as being more flexible” and realizes the importance of cutting down commuting for his staff:

“It’s always made me wonder when I see people commuting two hours and away from their family and friends on a Friday, you realize they can’t have plans… So I think we could do better.”

Not only does working from home cut out commute times, but it can also cut down costs considerably. With travel costs, petrol, transport and then the daily or weekly lunchtime dining – it all adds up. At home, you’re not tempted by office lunch takeaways, local eateries, or having to spend money on actually getting to and from work.

However, money transfers to increased electricity, heating, and internet usage. But, how does it compare?

If you look at a worker who typically drives into a city every workday – such as Bolton to Manchester – that’s around 26 miles of driving every day (13 miles there and back). You’re looking at around £50 in unleaded fuel being saved a month by working from home. For a train commuter traveling from Bolton to Manchester, who uses a monthly season ticket, that’s around £105 saved or £120 without using a monthly season ticket.

But, you’re probably spending that back on electricity and gas over the month by staying in more. As of April 2019, the average dual fuel variable tariff was estimated at £104.50 a month. This is before the pandemic and government-mandated lockdowns. Now that more people are working from home, with more hours using electricity for work on computers, homebrews, daily microwave pings, lights and so on, that figure is probably rising by at least 50%, if not doubling – especially during those winter months and cold spells.

How has homeworking affected productivity?

Gabriele Musella, CEO, and Cofounder of Coinrule, notes a positive, saying working from home “has increased my productivity level. I can stretch out and schedule my work conveniently and work in a more relaxed environment.”

Others, however, have noticed the strain on productivity homeworking brings, like Nick Pollitt, Managing Director of Diamond Interiors: “We’ve seen employers struggle and noticed an impact. The office environment brings teams together and is where productivity thrives. That spark fades out when staff are distanced from each other; sadly business can suffer.”

Pichai (Google’s CEO), echoes this by valuing the office for face-to-face interaction and “being together… when you have to solve hard problems and create something new.” He wants to “create more flexibility and more hybrid models” since the company’s internal survey interestingly found quite a split in the favoring of working remotely and in the office.

Are we entering a new hybrid-working age?

Salesforce – a cloud-based SaaS company – supports a hybrid work model, claiming “the 9-to-5 workday is dead.” But, they also understand the difficulties of working from home, “especially for those with families at home or for those who are feeling isolated.”

Big-tech companies are also following suit with Twitter announcing early on that staff can work from home “forever.” However, employees can work in the office when it’s safe to do so.

With isolation impacting mental health, increased office FOMO, and balancing out costs, it seems the work-from-home shift will be a sliding one, rather than a complete switch. People are enjoying more flexibility at home, but want the best of both worlds. Only time will tell what the future of the working world will look like.

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