The Remote Working Hype – some less explored aspects?
The discussion around remote working has gained significant attention recently due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced many organisations to adopt remote work policies where possible.
It is not a new concept, but the pandemic has accelerated its adoption and many people are discussing its potential benefits and challenges. However, the importance being attributed to the remote working discussion is probably not warranted, as surely it varies depending on the industry or profession.
Our front-line workers, including farmers, food manufacturers, delivery drivers, teachers, medics, social workers, the police, and fire service all must continue working on-site, with no options to work from home, the local coffee shop, or anywhere else.
Also, remote working doesn’t suit all individuals even if their work does allow them the choice. Some prefer the social aspects of the office and may find working remotely leads to isolation, mental health issues and decreased productivity.
Employees who do advocate for remote working must demonstrate to their employers that their performance will improve as a result. Employers should not be expected to implement significant changes to their operations to accommodate remote working without compelling benefits. For some employers, remote work may be a critical tool for increasing productivity, or a valuable employee benefit, while for others, it may not be a viable option at all.
So, if we have to discuss it at all, perhaps it’s better to evaluate the significance of remote work on a case-by-case basis, considering the needs and goals of each organisation and each employee.
If there is a useful discussion to be had on the subject then perhaps it’s that the pandemic has revealed the outdated nature of the traditional office, which was originally designed for clerical staff to exchange paper documents. Should we therefore be reassessing the usefulness of the commercial office and exploring alternative models?
Ultimately though, while remote working continues to be a topic of interest in ‘future of work‘ discussions, other pressing concerns such as ESG, international trade, conflict, supply chain vulnerability, mental wellbeing, energy costs, AI, and cyber threats, should perhaps demand greater attention from businesses and policymakers.
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