Has Working From Home Finally Become The New Normal?

A remote worker working from home as it is the new normal with Wurkr virtual office platform.

As the modern world changes, it brings about excitement yet it can also cause uncertainty. The need to establish a work-life integration has become of high importance to many people who feel they should be able to have it all; they want to build a successful career but not at the detriment of their health and well-being, or placing the importance of work above raising a family.

In the 21st Century, the cultural ‘norms’ of the working environment are being questioned, with many asking why it’s not possible to have a successful career AND enjoy your personal life, with neither being of more or less important than the other. The need for working from anywhere, be it remote or flexible, has been steadily increasing in recent years, with many organisations fully embracing change and positively benefiting from those changes. While others have been much less inclined to change with the times and meet the needs of their workforce.

For many businesses, remote or flexible working simply hasn’t been an option due to ‘company policy’. Yet, since the middle of March 2020 when the Coronavirus outbreak dramatically changed our lives around the world, all businesses have been forced to embrace a work from home policy.

All of a sudden, the entire world has been catapulted into creating a ‘new normal’. Employers have had to adapt the way they work and support employees, with a lot more emphasis now being placed on the physical and mental well-being of their staff.

The reliance on technology has increased and the levels of trust within organisations has also been put to the test. These are just two of the reasons why many organisations have never embraced remote or flexible working, citing technological or data protection issues, or simply not believing that employees would be as committed to their work outside of their place of work. Is it possible that Covid-19 has simply forced our hands in adapting and embracing a new way of working and shaping the future of the workplace?

And it’s not just employees benefitting from this new ‘work from home’ culture. Pollution in the skies over some of the world's most crowded places has cleared significantly as strict stay-at-home orders have been put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Countries have implemented strict travel restrictions and closed their borders. Air travel has ground to a halt. And with more people working from home, office blocks are no longer running heaters or air conditioning units. Fewer people are commuting by car, which reduces our carbon footprint. Impact Reporting has created a really cool calculator so that you can see the environmental impact that working from home has had on your organisation since lockdown began, showing how much energy you’ve saved, how much money you’ve saved on commuting and also how much time.

Many studies that have been published agree that working from home has reduced commuter travel and energy use, by as much as 80% in some cases, but a small number of studies has found that telecommuting can actually increase energy use. This is because the energy savings were offset by increased travel for recreation or other purposes, together with additional energy use in the home, which isn’t as economical as it is within an office building.

However, there’s no denying that there are some incredible benefits from working from home.

The World Economic Forum has published a really interesting article that looks at the top benefits of remote working, as well as the top struggles. The answers may or may not surprise you, but a staggering 98% of people questioned said that they’d like the option to work remotely for the duration of their career.

Taking data collected from Buffer’s State of Remote Report, the top benefits include:

  • A flexible schedule – 32%
  • Ability to work from any location – 26%
  • No commute – 21 %

While the top struggles include:

  • Being able to unplug after work – 22%
  • Feeling lonely – 19%
  • Collaboration and/or communication with teammates – 17%

These issues have always played a part in the transition into working from home. Do the positives outweigh the negatives? Does the financial and environmental impact of working from home make it worthwhile?

In the majority of cases, it all depends on the thought process of the decision-makers at the top. What I will say, is that many employees will now make an even firmer stand when it comes to working from home, as the entire world has now proven that it is possible; that the workforce can still be as productive, if not more so. That staff are just as motivated to perform well, but perhaps in a slightly different way that works for them. And that technology can help support your business needs in a safe and secure way.

When Tim and I first came up with the concept of Wurkr, it was so that we could take all the negatives of remote and flexible working and turn them into positives.

We wanted to create a platform that was inclusive and immersive, that replicated a visually connected office environment without the need for a physical office, that kept people together and allowed people from different time zones and geographies to still feel part of the team and enjoy office culture and collaboration, not to mention have a bit of fun as we do in a real physical office.

We had to overcome many hurdles to create the software platform that we have today, but the feedback that we’ve received from our Beta customers has been amazing and we’re proud to have created something that really will support and enhance the way in which we work in the future. This is what “Tech For Good” is all about.

In recent months, Wurkr has been catapulted at a faster rate than anticipated, but we're proud to have been able to offer a solution that so many organisations have been desperate for during these times, to show that we can use tech for good and bring some change to the way the world works.

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