The emergence of fibre broadband and The Cloud has meant that for many, working from home has become more common in recent years. But working from home hasn’t always been everyone's ‘cup of tea’, with many choosing to remain in the office until earlier this year. It’s safe to say that COVID-19 has forced workers to adapt to a more flexible way of working and has brought about a sudden work from home ‘revolution’.
For many, this break from the usual routine was welcomed with open arms. Many workers were enjoying new benefits of a well-balanced lifestyle - being free from the daily commute, eating lunch in a sunny garden and working from the sofa. But as we head into winter, we face the prospect of the ever-tightening restrictions ahead along with a laptop at the kitchen table or a desk chair in a chilly spare bedroom.
So what is the real cost of this 'new norm' for businesses and employees?
Many workers are lacking an office space with proper office furniture at home which means they often resort to sitting at a kitchen table or working from their bed or sofa. Although fun at first, for many the novelty has worn off and employees are seeing the drawbacks to this setup such as posture issues and back pain.
To add to this, the chairman of the Health and Safety Executive has recently announced that employers who “ask” their staff to work from home should conduct risk assessments. So not only is this a drawback for employees but a drawback for employers too. If a company’s health and safety executive (HSE) finds that an employee doesn’t have a suitable office desk or ergonomic chair, the company could be required to provide an alternative.
Being at home for eight plus hours each day means that employees’ utility bills such as heat, electric, water and internet will probably be higher, especially during winter. They can try to mitigate these bills by dressing appropriately and switching things off when they’re not being used but the bills are still likely to be higher than before.
It isn’t just employees who are facing extra bills but companies too. Many are still paying rent for empty offices in the hope that things can return to normal soon. On top of this they’ve added subscriptions to software such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams to their list of bills to allow them to communicate with staff and customers.
Until the government advised not to return to work, many businesses were also preparing for workers to return to the office, buying new office furniture and adding screens and partitions to their workspace. Now, many offices remain empty as government messaging for working from home fluctuates.
Those that work from home and live alone risk not seeing or speaking to anyone else for days and sometimes weeks at a time. Even with the benefits of video conferencing, engaging and connecting with customers and coworkers isn’t as easy as it was when we could all meet face-to-face without masks and restrictions. Not to mention the constant distractions from roommates, neighbours, children, pets and so on. If you are experiencing similar issues, you might want to take a look at our blog on strengthening office culture even while social distancing.
With so many of the rules changing on a daily basis, there are costs attached. Employers are meeting the bill right now but as businesses continue to struggle and work dries up, the work from home revolution may turn out to be very expensive for us all.
If you’re planning to refurbish your office with minimal disruptions for your team, now could be the perfect time while they’re working from home.
And if you are working on a plan to get your workers back into the office, take a look at our blogs, Office Fit Outs Post COVID-19, Returning To The Office After COVID-19 and What Will Offices Look Like Post Covid-19?.