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Working From Home: Embrace the best and leave the rest

by Niamh O'Donovan
May 25, 2020

The new workplace is virtual, and many people already worked remotely either full or part-time. But for a lot of us, our “new normal” of remote work is requiring quick adjustments in how we connect with our colleagues and stay productive and engaged.

Whether your business had never provided a remote working option, or your employees were used to a flexible workstyle – the last few months have been different for all. A distinction we in Enterprise Solutions have noticed is the differences between working at home (COVID-19 working) and working from home. And we note that remote working is different again.  So, what will be the longer-term outcome? We (and the data) envisage that both businesses and users will embrace the best and leave the rest.

COVID Working

For the last few months all of us have been working at home; COVID Working – continuously working from home, no office working, and no choice in the matter.  Many are juggling childcare and homeschooling, families are all at home, perhaps a lack of quiet working space, and others in the household working remotely at the same time. From the off-camera flailing arm used to silence children in the background to taking a call in every room in the house depending on the hour of the day – we get it!

But the important thing to remember is that this is an unusual time. Flexible or remote working outside of a pandemic does not have the same strains that many are faced with today.

Working from Home

On the other hand, working from home is when you have made an arrangement to work out of the office building, usually at home. It is a choice. Perks include no travel time allowing us to win back additional hours in our day; high productivity; allows both parties flexibility; and encourages collaboration. It is possible to hugely improve your work-life balance by combining office working and working from home.

In a nutshell, it’s what you’re currently doing minus the added stress of children and homeschooling, familial coworkers, lack of space, lack of choice in the matter, and lack of freedom to go outside of your home!

Remote Working

This may be a distant memory, but the ability to ensure we can work from ‘anywhere, anytime on any device’ was what we embraced. Whether it was during business travel, at a client site, during a commute, or on the side of the pitch! Working remotely is the ability to connect to corporate data securely whilst out of the office, from any device, at any time. The time will return when we will again be running from meeting to meeting, traveling for work and we will crave an experience that is the same regardless of where we are.

The Best – Top advantages of working from home

A plus to this enforced remote working ‘trial’ has been that both employers and employees are recognising the benefits of working remotely. A recent survey carried out by NUIG and DCU noted that out of over 7200 participants, the top three advantages to remote working were:

  • No traffic and no commute (76%);
  • Reduced costs of going to work and commuting (55%);
  • Greater flexibility as to how to manage the working day (48%).

The benefits that stem from the survey are endless. All of the above advantages give time back to people meaning more time to be productive, more time to achieve personal goals and more time to spend with families, to name a few.

Employers are reaping the benefits of a productive workforce that are often working longer hours. In many cases, the previously held reservations or myths have been busted; collaboration tools work, employees remain productive and flexibility in working hours does not impact results.

The Rest – The top challenges of working from home

The challenge of juggling childcare with work commitments was cited as a key issue in the recent survey. Also, we know this ‘forced’ working at home lacks choice, balance, and flexibility.  Other challenges cited were:

  • Not being able to switch off from work (37%);
  • Harder to communicate and collaborate with colleagues and co-workers (36%);
  • Poor physical workspace (28%).

Working from Home in the Future

Just over half (51%), of those surveyed, would like to work from their home, with the balance seeking a mix of home, a hub/work-sharing space and the office. The practice of remote work will be important in sustaining regional and rural communities as well as reducing congestion on key routes.

In all, the majority (83%) indicated that they would like to work remotely after the crisis is over.  Of these:

  • 12% indicated they would like to work remotely on a daily basis
  • 42% indicated they would like to work remotely several times a week
  • 29% indicated they would like to work remotely several times a month
  • 16% indicated they do not want to continue working remotely.

Post-pandemic, working from home doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. The advantages far outweigh the challenges, many realising the differences between working at home and working from home. As a company, it’s important to look at the business benefits and also recognise the challenges your employees are facing.

By combining Enterprise Solutions’ expertise on designing secure technology, that empowers flexible workstyles, with an understanding of the changing demands of a modern workforce, business leaders can easily navigate the digital landscape that defines a way of work, where we can embrace the best and forget the rest of COVID working.

Statistics and References: 
McCarthy, A., Ahearne, A., Bohle Carbonell, K., Ó Síocháin, T. and Frost, D. (2020). Remote Working During COVID-19: Ireland’s National Survey Initial Report. Galway, Ireland: NUI Galway Whitaker Institute & Western Development Commission.
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