2020 was the year when society as we knew it was turned upside down, with workers ejected from the office and sent home. But it wasn’t a vacation; for the first time in history the whole country was asked to do their job from home, wherever possible.
But this wasn’t a situation confined to the UK. All over the world, individuals have been working from home, utilising technology to stay in touch and carry out essential tasks. In many places, this is known as teleworking, a practice which until now wasn’t practiced on a large scale.
As 2021 approaches, many workers are still at home. The question is: when will they return to the workplace or could this be a permanent move?
Not Universally Popular
The switch to teleworking has really divided the workforce; some find it much more enjoyable while others dislike the lack of a work/home divide.
Employers also have a split opinion. Without having employees in the office, it’s not always easy to flex resource and for some, there’s the issue of supervision.
Tech solutions such as cloud computing and video calling have made working from home possible. In the past, the order for everyone to leave the workplace would have been disastrous. The recent evolution has meant that although there have been some challenges, for the most part it’s been manageable.
Plans to Return
Each country has its own rules in place about working from home, and these are fluid depending on the number of COVID cases. If numbers go up, workers could be asked to return home while countries with a stable, low rate of infection could be happy for employees to come back to the workplace.
Some employees have made the decision to continue working from home in the short-term. Although this may not be strictly necessary, they believe that it provides employees with the necessary stability to be able to effectively plan childcare and make other necessary arrangements. Constantly chopping and changing working philosophy is hard for some employees to manage in practical terms, so a commitment for the next six months may be the sensible choice.
Google is one of the employers who are following this route. The internet giant has told its staff that working from home can continue until the summer of 2021, at which time it will review working arrangements.
A Permanent Change?
Until 2020, only around 5% of workers in EU countries worked from home, a figure which hadn’t shown any sign of increasing. That’s all set to change with many tech firms embracing the opportunity to revolutionise working practices.
Tech roles are particularly well-suited to working from home and a number of companies have said this will be a permanent change. At these firms workers will be given the option to continue working from home, saving them the hassle of the commute and offering a better work-life balance.
Some of the companies who have committed to making a permanent adjustment to their working practices include global names. Twitter has said that it’s happy for employees to work at home for as long as they want while Facebook has said that it believes around half of its workforce will be teleworkers for the next 5-10 years.
COVID-19 has been a blight on the world in many ways, but out of the carnage of this virus it seems that a phoenix has emerged. The opportunity to work from home is something many employees have requested before, but been declined. The enforced changes have shown that working from home doesn’t have to be negative and that for many industries, such as tech, it can be a force for good.
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