COVID-19 killed your workplace (as you know it..)
Do you like going to work? Or, as your boss would think, how many places could you work from?
That’s the question a lot of people are asking lately. And it’s not new, coronavirus infections only fuel, or in some cases make imperative, a debate that already existed.
Does a company need to have its entire workforce (or a large part of it) under the same roof? Even if this is a feasible possibility, is it efficient? Are face-to-face relationships necessary every day? Do they need to share space, oxygen and room temperature? Does it improve or worsen relationships between team members?
The trend lately is to answer most of these questions negatively. To a large extent, this is because there are already working tools at affordable and comfortable prices for companies that allow what is called “ubicuitous workplace” (I like this concept better than teleworking).
If you think about it, the only reason why we all have to go to the same place to work is because it has always been like that and because until now there have been no feasible means not to do so.
This has definitely changed.
The ubiquitous workplace
It makes less and less sense for companies to have a worker attached to a job at a single location provided by the company. Especially if this work is mostly done in front of a computer. The tendency now is to control the work more than the worker, which is far more efficient in many ways.
In terms of advantages, on the one hand, it allows companies to access talent that they do not have available in their cities, facilitates the implementation of family reconciliation policies with what makes the company more interesting for workers, saves space and office resources, reduces carbon footprint, simplifies the deal with suppliers and partners among other advantages. On the worker’s side, it is easier for them to distribute their working hours, they save time and money on travel costs and in many cases work in environments where they are less distracted.
In your company you telework more than you think
When you talk about telework you think of workers doing office work from home. That’s not always the case. There are teams that may be at another location in the company or working from a coworking site. This is also the case when you have to work from the office with third parties such as business partners, customers, suppliers, etc. There the work there is always 100% remote and in many cases this part of the work is a very important part of the total work of a company. This is why improving the skills of distance working is becoming a fundamental competence.
What would you do if you had to have a chat with a customer who is 200km away to give him an estimate? Would you take the car and give him £50 worth of petrol or would you arrange a video conference? With the first option apart from being more expensive, prone to traffic accidents, polluting or time-consuming if either of you have a coronavirus…
Cost savings for companies, increased productivity and environmental improvement
Aside from getting rid of bankruptcy if your company is quarantined for a coronavirus, having flexible workplaces can save a lot of infrastructure costs. Some studies say up to 30%, I think even more if we add the productivity increase that usually occurs.
A worker who can choose when and where to work normally is a more productive worker. Obviously, there will be restrictions on both, such as having to work 40 hours a week or a certain number of hours in the office, but it is clear that there is an improvement in the efficiency of work and therefore in productivity.
An interesting aspect of this efficiency improvement is the reduction of travel in vehicles to work. You can imagine how much time we save per day, money and above all how much CO2 we stop emitting. In Cordoba perhaps not much but in big cities the impact would be brutal.
A flexible workplace increases the value of the company for the worker
When a company tries to acquire talent and human capital, the usual and fundamental way to pay the worker is with a salary. Nowadays, more and more companies compete to provide their workforce with facilities such as cost savings on travel, family reconciliation, being able to live in the city that is most convenient or a flexible working day to be more attractive to workers. This enables a happier, more productive and even willing to charge less, if it increases their quality of life.
Let’s talk about quality of life. As you know, we have been living a process of urbanization for several decades. This means that people are leaving the villages to live in the big city. In short, this happens because people have better job and business opportunities in those cities. What if you didn’t have to commute to work every day or just once a week or couple of times in a month? Surely we could consider the option of living more in the suburbs or in one of those lovely villages where housing is so cheap and the air is so pure.
Wrapping it up!
There are studies that predict the advent of the widespread adoption of such remote work sooner rather than later, it is a trend that is growing and accelerating year after year for the reasons explained above and common sense. For companies, which always learn at the stroke of a pandemic, I believe that there will be a before and after the coronavirus in this regard, and what we are seeing these days will accelerate the trend even more.
Author: Javier Jiménez (Linkedin)
This article was originally published in the newspaper Cordópolis on 3/11/2020. Link(in Spanish).