Post-Covid, the working landscape is going to look incredibly different to what it did before Lockdown 1 hit in March 2020.
The daily commute, an absolute grind for many, was always a necessary evil. Not anymore.
In a recent survey conducted by Aviva, 95 percent of people now want to either have a flexible home-office split or to work remotely at home full-time.
Clearly, working relationships with colleagues will suffer to some extent, but the realisation that most things can now be done from home is a pull that many don’t want to resist any longer.
Even if as recently as 12 months ago they hadn’t even considered the possibility.
Think about it. How stressed do many office workers become before they’ve even hung their coats in the morning?
Up to two hours each way for some to commute, often in unbearably hot carriages, see to it that the working day is started off in the worst possible way.
Getting home in much the same mood affects family life and now, with the benefit of hindsight, people are saying ‘enough.’
Take Danny Harmer for example. She joined Aviva Plc as their head of personnel just before Lockdown 1 and only spent a few weeks with her new work colleagues.
With all due respect to them, she hopes that is the most time she ever spends with them.
So called ‘smart’ working policies will almost certainly have to be introduced by many companies, and Aviva – with 16,000 British employees, spread among 14 offices – will be one of them.
“There’s a change in mindset brought on by the pandemic,” Harmer noted. “People have experienced it and go, ‘Yes, I want some of this.’”
Of course, certain meetings will require in-person attendance, however, those that can stay as ‘all remote’ will do so.
The ability to choose when to come into the office under smart working policies is bound to benefit any business too. Employers should, theoretically, find it easier to get the best from their employees.
Indeed, one internal leadership candidate at Aviva living in Norwich was known to be none too pleased at the prospect of the consistent commute to London, a journey of some 2.5 hours each way.
Now, with an option of only commuting when necessary, the candidate has reconsidered the idea because of the flexibility it allows.
Companies such as Mooeve will therefore become a Godsend in the post-Covid working environment.
Mooeve are a company that specialise in renovating old buildings and turning such accommodation into combined co-living and co-working spaces.
For those dipping in and out of work, or even foreign businessmen or women that don’t necessarily want to move around whilst abroad, Mooeve’s hybrid and cost-effective solution is perfect.
Fluxx, a London consulting company, are already taking advice on the challenges that co-working and remote working could present.
Partner, Jenny Burns is keen to caution companies like Goldman Sachs who appear determined not to shift into a newer way of working post-Covid.
Goldman Sachs’ CEO, David Solomon, said remote work was “an aberration that we are going to correct as quickly as possible.”
Burns, however, warned; “If you slip back into old ways quickly, you will lose employees.”
The goalposts have changed to such an extent now that any employer seeking to wield an iron fist on the issue will regret it. At the very least, home working has to be an option for any new company employees to consider.
People will demand the freedom to work where they feel most comfortable and are therefore most likely to thrive.
Domestic circumstances must be taken into account by companies now, rather than a prior ‘not our problem’ type attitude.
Co-founder of Speak Media, George Theohari, is happy for his staff to stay at home post-Covid, whilst knowing that he’ll rent a coworking space – cc Mooeve – in the longer term to give his staff the option to come in as needed.
“As an employer, you always have a duty to care for your teams, and that’s been brought sharply into focus by this,” Theohari acknowledged.
Speak Media and Aviva aren’t the only pioneers to embrace the workplace changes, however, with Lloyds Banking Group Plc projecting a 20% cut in office space by 2023 and HSBC Holdings Plc predicting a 40% reduction in its property footprint.