Ever since the first cases of the novel coronavirus were reported in late 2019, life on earth, in truth, has never been the same. In a bid to curb the spread of this deadly virus, a new world order was adopted, characterized by wearing masks, closure of public gathering spots, and a halting of most of the international travel, just to mention a few. One of the biggest and most consequential directives issued in most nations, however, was the work from home order. This urged employers to permit their staff to work from their residences, just as the name suggests, minimizing the close human contact that working in office spaces requires.
But with countries such as New Zealand experiencing a significant drop in infections and a global disbursement of Covid-19 vaccines, one might expect a certain aspect of normalcy to return. However, a survey in the Middle East by global recruitment consultancy, Robert Walters, showed that 38% of professionals in the region want remote work policies to be permanently implemented in the work culture. Furthermore, 32% of the respondents suggested a blend of both office and remote working, with at least half of the working hours spent working from home.
Even before the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, many employers had started to adopt work from home models, citing advantages such as improved flexibility, increased productivity due to fewer interruptions, improved staff motivation, and financial benefits to both the staff and the business. A good number of the professionals who took part in the survey agree with these benefits, with 31% mentioning that remote working allowed for an increased focus on personal well-being while 73% enjoyed the flexible working hours it permits.
Another finding from the survey is that 42% of the respondents developed their communication skills during the pandemic thanks to e-communication tools. Video conferencing using applications such as Zoom, Google Meet, and Webex has become extremely popular and as a result, 83% of businesses with over 250 employees and 27% of small scale businesses are intending to develop their video calling infrastructure. The pandemic period has also changed email use from being a primary form of workplace communication, with instant messaging, phone calls, and video calls gaining more popularity.
The survey, which involved 1000 professionals, also uncovered that more than 6 in the 10 businesses surveyed promised to take the requests made by their employees into consideration. That’s why companies at the moment are prioritizing improving the tech required for remote working, developing policies that will promote mental health and well-being, and reshaping office spaces.
However, a quarter of the companies surveyed believe that the individuals at the highest level of management may hinder the implementation of these modern office practices due to a preference for the traditional ways of running a workplace. The bottom line is, companies will have to take an in-depth look at which working practices will bring them the highest productivity, and focus on implementing them.