If Shakespeare had answered the question To be or not to be to his satisfaction, I think it’s
fair to say that the question of remote working would not have been next on his list of
But it’s certainly top of mind for businesses across the UK right now. To go back to
traditional compulsory office working or not? And if so, to what degree?
Aside from the questions of productivity and employee wellbeing, we are still faced with
uncertainty in the face of the pandemic. Apple pushed back their timeline for returning to the
office. Some companies are saying they are under pressure from employees to also delay
under the threat of Covid-19 spread from new variants.
So how do we get to the core of the issue? Until the pandemic hit last year, opinions on
working from home split companies into camps:
– And Maybe.
The three camps still exist, but the numbers have turned completely upside down. The old-
school in-office 9-5 default has been extinct for a year and a half, except in essential
industries that couldn’t function without on-location workers.
But this is not essentially anything new, even though it was mandated overnight. Millennials,
bootstrapped start-ups and solopreneurs have been doing this for decades with outsourced
teams. The notion of remote work gradually spread as larger companies realised they could
save on resources. However, there has always been resistance based on the fear of losing
And there are more benefits than just savings on office hire. You may be able to tap into far
more talent by offering flexible working. Not just due to geography and commutes. But
because not everyone wants to commute. In fact, for some of the world’s most sought-after
talent who have their pick of job roles, it’s a complete dealbreaker.
At Inonda this is how we’ve always been able to access world-class talent who deliver
award-winning results generating leads for our clients.
We’re now facing one of the oddest stages of this extraordinary, shared rollercoaster: after a
year of being forced to work from home, now, all of a sudden, no one has to.
The choice is back in the hands of employers on how to set conditions of work for
employees. And the more you look at the decision, the more interesting it gets:
For working at home:
- Why not? People have functioned perfectly well and some have actually thrived.
For working at the office:
- It’s how it’s always been done. You, as the employer, are in control. No sneaky wasting company time.
The crux of the problem seems obvious: It’s different for everyone. So, there’s a wave of
cries for a clear third choice:
- Let people decide for themselves
There are so many variables at play. Productivity. Mental wellbeing. Individual tolerance for
feeling safe from the virus.
The question is: why do employers need to decide on behalf of the workforce? Let
individuals decide. After all, no one likes being distracted and unproductive in the long term
and getting buried in catch-up work. If it doesn’t work for certain people to work from home,
they are the ones best suited to make the call.
I know this is likely a logistical nightmare. How much office space will you need from one day
to the next if everyone just wakes up and decides on the day? Workstations could be
overbooked one day… then half empty the next.
It’s very likely that the way office space works is due to fundamentally change. There’s so
much opportunity for a bright new disruptive option for genuinely flexible workspace. It’ll be a
tough one to figure out. But if it was easy then everyone would do it.