During the COVID-19 pandemic, remote working has become much more commonplace. Most people have been told to work from home where possible, and they have had to adapt to this way of working. Whether or not this working style will continue after the pandemic is, however, debatable.
Benefits and drawbacks of remote working
Remote working can open up many opportunities to those who may not be able to work from an office every day. These people may include those with caring responsibilities and those with chronic illnesses, amongst many others. It can, however, be very isolating for some workers and lead to issues, such as loneliness.
In terms of working hours, researchers found that 39% of remote workers said it was true that they had to often work extra time, compared to 24.1% of those in fixed workplaces. Additionally, the research suggests that those working remotely had longer working days and higher intensity of work per hour. However, remote workers also displayed more positive attitudes towards the organisation which employed them, had significantly higher levels of job satisfaction and said their jobs were more stimulating and pleasurable.
What do studies suggest about remote working after the pandemic?
A study by the Institute of Directors, revealed that 74% of the 1000 directors who participated, said they would continue remote working after the pandemic ends. Additionally, more than half of the respondents said that their organisation intended to reduce long-term use of traditional workplaces. Amongst those who were using a traditional workplace before the Government guidance of working from home was introduced, 4 in 10 said they believed that working from home was proving more effective. This study suggests that remote working could definitely be here to stay in the long-term.
McKinsey & Co also conducted an analysis of 2000 tasks, 800 jobs, and 9 countries. They found that in some industries, hybrid models of remote work seem to be here to stay. The study results suggest that the pandemic has broken various technological and cultural barriers, which have previously prevented remote work.
The study ultimately found that more than 20% of the workforce could realistically work remotely, between three to five days a week, just as effectively as if they were working from a traditional workplace, like an office.
If this happened, there would be three to four times as many people working from home, compared to before the pandemic. In particular, some industries, such as finance, management, and professional services, could have the highest potential for remote working. The study did however find that over 50% of the workforce has little or no opportunity to work remotely. This is due to a variety of reasons, including; jobs requiring specialised machinery, work that has to be done on location, and some job roles which are performed out of the house, such as a person making deliveries.
What does this mean?
It is clear that there are a number of potential positive and negative outcomes related to remote working. Research suggests that some companies are looking to allow employees to work remotely more often after the pandemic has ended. Some workers are highly unlikely to work remotely on a permanent basis though. People working in industries that require them to handle and move objects, control machinery, and mechanical equipment are amongst those who will likely continue working on site.
Zoe Lightowler likes to express herself through writing, baking, and anything crafty! Being chronically ill herself means she is very passionate about raising awareness of long-term illnesses, especially those which may be invisible to others. Zoe also loves animals, comedy films, and taking care of her many house plants.