The world is constantly changing and today we are seeing more people working from home since the corona struck. Very few before the pandemic were working from home but as the pandemic hits the world it becam very clear that working from home will be the new normal.
The COVID‐19 pandemic compelled large sections of the workforce out of their workplaces and into their homes to work. Many commentators suggest this has forever changed how and where we work.
The role of the office is being scrutinised like never before after the global pandemic caused a seismic shift to ‘working from home’. Gone are the dreaded commutes and strict working hours in favour of flexibility. However, a year after the global transformation in working patterns, the question remains – does working from home full time really offer the best long-term solution for businesses?
It has been one vast experiment in employee behaviour, and at first it worked – because it had to. In fact, CEOs were surprised to see improvements in employee productivity. For some companies, especially those in the tech and start-up market, home working was already the norm. It allowed leadership to recruit across geographies, which widened the talent pool and reduced restrictions imposed by factors such as the cost of housing.
However, for many companies, this was a whole new way of working.
They see working from home as a new dilemma for their companies: is it something that provides a competitive advantage or helps them to retain employees.
Although doing away with the considerable expense of renting office space may be attractive, ditching the office entirely in favour of remote working also reduces the opportunity for those all-important moments of serendipity. Bumping into a colleague away from your desk can lead to valuable collaborative insights and a sense of agency that can foster employee loyalty. As the necessity of working from home transitions to the right to work from home, combining technology with an adaptable approach will be key as companies seek to strike the right balance in their working culture.
Listening to some Sierra Leoneans in London that are working and studying from home, most of them say they are happy because it gives them time to work and do house chores at the same time.
A lady said that when her boss for the first time called on all of the to switch on their cameras, she was so disappointed because she was in her night gown.
She had to hurriedly change her clothes, look for her wig and apply a little makeup. She said some of her female colleagues did not switch on and they gave excuses for that and she was angry at herself not to have done the samething.
However, they all said they enjoy working at home as some of them are now working and babysitting and it is costing them less.
The week of 20th June saw the England train strike three times: Monday, Tuesday, Thirsday and Saturday, if it was not working from home that has been the new normal, it would have affected the English work force badly, but the effect was minimal as thousands of workers are working from home saving most of these companies from massive losses during the strike.
Every company has its own unique strategy and business model, and some industries are inevitably better suited to the remote-working model. That said, there is little doubt that the future of work will embrace a hybrid approach where flexibility is king.
So is working from home likely to become the ‘new normal’ in the public sector. Prior to the pandemic, there was evidence of considerable resistance to working from home from some managers who had concerns about technology, compliance with employment regulation, and employees’ productivity and performance. Many of the technical barriers were swept away by the pandemic, leaving resistance based on institutional cultures and managerial attitudes.
Researchers have stated that to mitigate resistance to change, organisations should plan for the change, create a climate of trust, and encourage employee participation.
The continued take‐up and normalisation of working from home will vary across and within jurisdictions, due to the institutional arrangements for public sector human resource management. New public management reforms have changed the role of central personnel institutions, as public service boards seeking standardisation were replaced with more facilitative institutions, such as public service commissions, that provide a central policy framework for agencies to operationalise.
This decentralisation and agency discretion leads to policy differences between agencies, as well as considerable difference on implementation within each agency, although 2018 research identified a common theme or culture of resistance regardless of the type of policy.
Even talking to students, they are happy to be taking classes from home and they believe it has helped them greatly in achieving success.
My Sister who is a teacher in London has been teaching from home since the pandemic and she has been enjoying her classes as she says the students are cooperating.
All of them must switch on their cameras and they have been very active in class. It is now part of the human life to adapt to change and move forward with times.
Thinking of Sierra Leone, to work from home will be very difficult of many workers due to poor and expensive internet as well as blackout that is also the new normal in the country.
Even holding meetings through zoom is one of a headache as most of the members connection would be on and off due to poor internet connection.
A great deal of excitement is being generated that the pandemic is fundamentally changing how we live and work, with predictions that working from home will become ‘the new normal’. Based on past practice, however, we question the extent to which large numbers of public sector employees will continue to work from home.
Although many public servants have client‐facing roles, the pandemic provided opportunities to be creative about other forms of service delivery, from online teaching to call centre work undertaken from home.
The pandemic has also strengthen the online shopping and today millions of people around the world are very convenient in using the online market for buying from breakfast to dinner.
Even in London there are some restaurants that do not encourge eat in anymore as all their food are for delivery from online orders which to them is helping them greatly to cut cost on many areas within the restaurant.
For most of the employees, the move to remote work or working from home was a necessity, and it hasn’t always been easy. There’s no denying it, video calls just aren’t the same as meeting in person.
As appealing as working from home to employees, employers also recognize the benefits from their side of the desk. Companies with work-from-anywhere policies can boost employee productivity, reduce turnover, and lower organizational costs.
Telecommuting workers with very complex jobs who don’t require a lot of collaboration or social support can perform better than their office-based counterparts.2 Also, in the event of a natural or manmade disaster, a distributed workforce is in a better position to keep operations running, even if some of the group goes offline.
The digital world gives us the convenience of working from virtually anywhere. From the office, the couch, or even the beach. Home working opens up a new range of possibilities for the way businesses can work and structure themselves. With the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, home working has given some employers the flexibility they need to continue their business operations while prioritising staff and customer health and wellbeing as part of their public health responsibility.
As for me I believe home working enables more agility and flexibility in working arrangements. With employees no longer tied to an office, they may be better placed and more willing to work flexible hours such as earlier or later in the day or even at weekends. This may help meet certain business needs eg if you are trading with customers residing in a different time zone.
Also home working can help retain employees as the flexibility of home working can help them meet childcare needs, reduce their commute and enable them to fit their work around their personal life. Being allowed to work from home, staff will also feel increased levels of trust from their employer, which can contribute greatly to staff loyalty.
Kets face it, home working can be offered as an incentive to come and work for you helping you to attract new talent to your business. Even just offering the option to work from home will give you an advantage in the job market over competitors that don’t offer home working as an option to their staff.
Finally, I think due to fewer interruptions, which would normally occur in an office environment. By contrast, working from home allows for a quieter environment that can facilitate more focused work. You may also find that some employees may wish to increase their hours of work as they save time that was previously spent commuting to and from the workplace.