Future of work may be with a remote workforce
With the global COVID-19 pandemic, offices have been shut down, and employees have been working from home. While companies are starting to open up again, at least 46% of Danish employees would still like to work from home. Meanwhile, some employers have chosen to discontinue the office altogether and stay virtual, while others see the COVID-19 crisis as a great opportunity to start doing a hybrid model, with for example CODAN now letting their employees work from home 40% of the time.
However, working from home requires proper seating and a good working environment, both for employee wellbeing, but also because the law states that the same work environment requirements are applicable for working from home. Providing proper working conditions can be very costly, a logistical nightmare, and highly impractical, so it is understandable that companies, who may already be struggling to find their way out of the crisis, may not want to acquire the sudden unexpected costs associated with paying for home offices. Furthermore, employees may not even have the space required to fit such (usually bulky) office furniture in their homes, and as a result, employees often suffice with working from their dining table or the sofa, impacting their long-term health.
There have been discussions lately about the viability of the Danish labor inspectorate’s laws and regulations, which state that the same rules are applicable in your home as in the office, if employees work from home more than 7.4hrs in a week. This has not been as heatedly discussed up until now, since not as many people worked from home before the COVID-19 crisis. Prior to the pandemic, 7.8% of Danes worked from home, equalling 218K people, but this skyrocketed to 614K people during the crisis (in the private sector only).
The trend of working from home, even past Corona, will indeed persist, as shown by research done by Gartner and the like, so there is an urgent need to develop solutions that can help companies tackle this challenge and opportunity. Rather than relying on the rules and regulations to adjust to accommodate the change (aka just remove the darn rules), we should see this as an exciting opportunity to change the way we work and change our perspective in viewing the costs vs benefits when it comes to providing better work environments for remote employees.
Much research supports how our environment and our surroundings have an enormous impact on our creativity, productivity, and our well-being, and it becomes evermore important when employees are working from home and need to feel connected to their workplace and employer. This is why the challenge should be taken on as an opportunity to innovate in the remote workspace to unlock new potential in people and in companies, rather than pesky laws to circumvent.
The solution should not be about avoiding the rules and regulations (as outdated as they may be, according to the companies that want the rules to change), but to find smarter ways to increase productivity and employee happiness in this new setup, as everyone (even the boss) will need to adjust to a different way of working and a different way to integrate home life with work life.
Companies may realize that being proactive about taking care of their employees’ wellbeing at home will create gratitude and loyalty. Thus, going at the challenge creatively and graciously, the long-term benefits for the company and its brand will greatly outweigh the short-term costs. Providing home office setups that consistently live up to high standards may take some effort in the beginning, since designer furniture is too costly in quantity, and IKEA furniture won’t deliver a sense of satisfaction or quality of life. If only there was a home office furniture subscription solution that could deliver sustainable designer office furniture as a service… ;)