Working From Home: Temporary Measure or the New ‘Norm’?
Over the past few weeks, many of us have adjusted to working from home and discovered just how much can be achieved when working remotely. Some experts say remote working could be here to stay, depending on productivity levels and whether businesses will continue to support this new way of working.
In earlier years, it was considered essential for property managers to work from the office. Over time, that mindset has changed to recognising this role can be more flexible to not only suit the employee, but to also benefit the employer. So, how can a remote working environment be advantageous to an employee?
- A Flexible Schedule: Some of us are more productive at different times of the day. There are those who are most productive in the mornings, who no longer have to wait to get to the office to start their work day. On the other hand, there are plenty of people that find it better to do their paperwork at night after dinner.
- Less Interruptions: Typically, a home office will have less interruptions than an office full of people. Phone calls are a lot quieter with no background office noise and the temptation to stop and chat with a colleague or get involved with office politics is removed when working remotely.
- Zero Commuting: Some may say the most unproductive and stressful part of their day is the commute to work. When working from home, it allows staff to use their commute time for more mindful activities.
- Less Expensive: Employees are set to save money on travel, parking, coffee and take-away lunches when working from home.
- Working Parents: Working from home gives people the ability to care for a sick child, do the school drop-off/pick-up and allow them to be more present with their family.
For the employer, having a flexible, remote working environment can also be beneficial for many reasons, including:
- Reduced Overheads: Allowing staff to work from home inevitably reduces overhead expenses, such as power bills, office supplies and staff room staples like tea and coffee. If working remotely works well for your team, the need for renting an office space could eventually become obsolete.
- Reduced Turnover of Staff: Flexible working structures will undoubtedly increase job satisfaction. This helps cultivate a positive work culture and promotes staff to stay long-term, meaning less time and money spent on advertising for positions, interviewing, hiring and training staff.
- Increased Productivity: Studies show that staff who work from home are far more productive than those in an average office environment. Employees working at home have greater autonomy, face fewer interruptions and can focus better on their work.
- Higher Morale: Employees who thrive from a flexible working structure have higher morale and enjoy their jobs more than those who feel stifled in a traditional office environment. Higher morale undoubtedly has a positive impact on quality of work and productivity, therefore benefitting the business bottom line earnings.
Obviously, the fear for employers is that staff might be down at the beach or slacking off at home when you’re expecting staff to be working. One way to combat this is to clearly outline working-from-home expectations, set productivity goals or deadlines and conduct regular progress check-ins. Similar to when you’re all working together in the office, it will soon become apparent if someone isn’t working to their full potential.
Another fear employers have when switching to a work-from-home environment is the lack of social interaction and collaboration an office provides. Making the switch to a reliable video conferencing system such as Zoom can make up for the lack of face-to-face meetings, and allows workers to share screens with one another whilst talking. In addition to Zoom, Microsoft Teams allows for instant messaging and file sharing Google Docs or Sharepoint allows several people to simultaneously work on the same document.
Once the immediate health emergency passes, it’s likely there will be a mix of people who want to return to the office and those who would like to continue to work from home. While COVID-19 has had a tumultuous impact on many lives across the globe, it provides one positive – it’s highlighted the need to reset the way our workforce is structured, supported and how people are employed. But will real estate agencies adopt working from home and flexible work cultures moving forward? That a question only you can answer.