Working from home has been a relative success but it’s about to get ugly

working from home
Photo by Kamil Macniak

Working from home has been a relative success story of these Covid-19 times, but from here on in it’s going to get ugly. 

Working from home isn’t for everyone, but that’s often because people haven’t tried it. Covid-19 has given a proverbial leg-up to those still wary of the fence. There are technology hurdles to overcome, as well as social ones. People who worked in offices and relied on pinging IT support as soon as a key started sticking, or grabbed a coffee as an excuse to chat with co-workers around the bean-grinder would inevitably face hurdles. 

But surprise, surprise, turns out there are advantages of working from home, that those of us who already did it had worked out some time ago. Now the rest of the workforce is catching on. A survey in the UK (by a nursery provider, so you could argue it’s not exactly in their interest to promote this) has found that only 13% of those 1,500 surveyed ” want to go back to pre-pandemic ways of working, with most people saying they would prefer to spend a maximum of three days in the office”, according to the Guardian. 

Nearly two thirds of those believe their employers would be up for it. And well over half believe it would increase their loyalty to the company. 

Of course the survey shoehorns in some other stuff, which arguably strengthens their business model: parents say they have had trouble coping with younger kids (and presumably could do with a nursery should this work from home lark continue beyond Covid-19. As you can see below, employers don’t like kids.) 

But I think it’s good that more people are realising that, the stresses and isolation notwithstanding, working from home has its merits. If nothing else, it wakes people up to how unproductive the workplace can be. Meetings, people dropping by to chat, open plan offices sick buildings : all are a big distraction, a threat to health and a time-suck. 

And the pandemic is bringing home another reality: most of this office stuff can be done from home. A survey by Deakin University in Australia has found that 41% of full-time and 35% of part-time jobs can be done from home . The study uses a similar methodology from a US study, which reaches similar conclusions. My tuppennies’ worth: that number is extraordinarily high, if you think about the different kinds of work people do. But as countries dispense with production and move to services, and the Internet of Things improves the remote (and automated) control and monitoring of physical objects, this proportion will grow further. I’ve rarely come across someone in the services sector who couldn’t do what they do out of a Starbucks. Even, sadly, the Starbucks employees themselves. 

Related article: Helpful tips to work securely from home during coronavirus crisis

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