Option to work from home post-Covid could be the new normal

Company management reflect the sentiment and safety concerns of their staff globally to look at remote access working models for the long term, a move being mirrored in the UAE as well.

Space
By
Sankar Pillai
October 18, 2020

A recent study paper commissioned by global consultancy firm Ernst & Young (EY) that looks at the long term benefits of companies continuing with their remote working policies, lists a series of advantages. From changing their way of working sustainably and reaping the benefits over the medium to long term, companies can adapt to anything from less office space to rent, to less commuting time for employees and fewer business trips to be planned and related expenditure accrued, as well as shorter breaks for staff, allowing them to be more hands on with their job, while allowing management to provide employees with more me time with family and friends if they choose to operate from the comfort of their homes. It’s a win-win.

working from home post covid

If viewed on a larger scale, remote working could offer companies the flexibility to deal with unexpected events in the future, such as the Covid-19 crisis.

It is a fact though that management and company owners may have to look at getting their workers to stay at home and work due to a lack of alternatives as well.

Yet another study commissioned by the Harvard Business School in August this year, for instance states that up to 16 per cent of those who have been working remotely from home in the US due to the pandemic will continue doing so. The paper titled, What Jobs Are Being Done at Home During the Covid-19 Crisis? Evidence from Firm-Level Surveys, revealed data arrived at after conducting the survey among 1,800 people working for small and big organisations.

The survey estimates that in fact more than a third among the firms that had employees switch to remote work believed the trend would remain more common at their company even after the Covid crisis ended.

Researchers concluded by stating that the estimates suggested that at least 16 percent of American workers would switch from professional offices to working at home at least two days per week as a result of Covid, and that “this would represent a dramatic and persistent shift in workplace norms around remote work, with implications for companies, employees, and policymakers alike.”

Local effect

In the UAE, in keeping with the trend and to ensure the safety of citizens and workers for the long term, the Federal Authority for Government Human Resources ruled that some federal and ministry workers would continue working remotely, as reported by Gulf News as early as May this year.

The distance work system would cover Emirati employees working in ministries and federal entities, and those who would be appointed later in the future.

Coming back to the EY study, continuing remote working requires a phase-wise realigning of priorities to shape a new working model that allows the staff and management to cohesively work towards growth and the betterment of the organisation. According to the study, the following attributes can be taken into consideration:

  • A new operational model based on higher flexibility and more agile and remote ways of working;
  • A corporate culture that is more connected internally and externally and where an analysis of collaboration can provide valuable data
  • An alignment of business goals to the new cultural standard and employee expectations.
  • Data driven methods of analysis to get deeper insights into new learning patterns, employee sentiments, etc.
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