Working from home: positive lessons from the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic lockdown

ARE WE LEARNING ANYTHING POSITIVE WHILE WORKING REMOTELY? WHAT CAN YOU DO TO CREATE ROBUST, STANDARDISED COMMUNICATIONS FOR TELEWORKERS?

Plan to incorporate the positives of remote working in your business communications and processes. 

We hope you are keeping safe. The coming months present personal and professional challenges. What positive lessons will be learned during a mass work-from-home period that we'd like to see continue in our working lives? Is it possible that the UK workforce will look to change aspects of the traditional UK nine-to-five culture?

Every economic shockwave leaves a legacy. The COVID-19 pandemic will be no exception. The twentieth century ‘great depression’ created a “waste not want not” outlook that defined consumer patterns for decades.

In 2020 it’s a public health emergency that’s shaking the world economy. In a very short time, people have become used to wearing masks, stocking up on essentials, cancelling social and business gatherings, scrapping travel plans and working from home.

Traces of such habits will continue after the virus lockdowns ease, acting as a brake on demand. On the supply side, manufacturers are being forced to reconsider where to buy and produce their products.

Office-based, white collar businesses have increased measures for remote working and have become used to elements of flexi-time, staggered shifts, during an enforced period of working from home as a part of people’s day-to-day routines.

Once effective work-from-home practices are established, are they are likely to continue?

The majority of Europeans aren’t working from home

The majority of Europeans never work from home. However, there may be aspects of teleworking that have a lasting appeal to workers when the world eases quarantine restrictions. In the UK, the average commuting time is one hour and twenty minutes a day. Commentators suggest that lengthy commuting times are a significant factor in our general inability to create genuine work-life balance.

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Phil Flaxton, of Work Wise UK, says: "Long commutes have become a part of the UK’s working culture. But the excessive time spent commuting is one of the main factors contributing to work-life balance problems. Not only is the time spent commuting an issue, the nine to five culture with its peak travel times generates congestion.”

Flaxton argues that job satisfaction can be improved, and stress levels reduced, if workers have opportunities to reduce their commuting time. We may learn ‘something’ about the capability of traditionally office-based businesses to function productively with remote workers during this time when the majority are working from home and staggering their hours.

The AA considers future transport budgets

The AA says that the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis will transform the way we live, work and travel in the UK.

It predicts a permanent reduction in the demand for travel because people have learned during the crisis to use home-working technology. 

The implications are profound for commuters and for government finances.

The chancellor currently plans to spend £27bn to curb congestion on roads and £100bn on HS2 – but if demand falls, that may not be needed.

AA President Edmund King says anecdotal evidence from people lucky enough to be working during the coronavirus-enforced lockdown suggests that infrastructure funds might be better spent on broadband to support home working.

King told BBC News: "Arguably in future, we should invest more in broadband because what this current crisis has shown is that the majority of companies can continue working from home, and it can be more efficient."

Other experts say if commuters spend just one day a week working from home after the crisis - or commuting later - the roads will be as empty as they are in the school holidays. 

King continued: "People travelling up and down motorways just to hold meetings is inefficient, expensive and not good for the environment. I think use of roads and rail and indeed bus will be reduced after this crisis."

Balancing work, family and leisure

As we reflect on the present and weeks ahead, it is hard to predict what the returning working world will be like. 

However, businesses may learn to trust remote working and flexible hours more, and their staff may discover potential work-life benefits they would like to retain. But why is balance important, and what processes will evolving businesses need if the nine-to-five culture is to change? 

5 Reasons why work-life balance is so importan

Work-life balance is about separating personal and professional lives without allowing one to encroach on the other. Both are important, neither should be neglected. The five main reasons why you absolutely must maintain a healthy work-life balance. 

1. To maintain your mental health
2. To ensure your physical health and wellbeing
3. It increases productivity
4. Become a more rounded individual
5. You only get one life 

You only get one life, so live it to the fullest. 

Businesses will be able to evaluate their productivity working with remote staff. When quarantines are lifted, will we want to do more from home and cut commuting times? Perhaps there will be significant numbers who want to make new school run and other family arrangements to improve work-life balance?

Distance learning?

Beyond the home, more of our familiar daily activities will be re-evaluated.

Universities and schools will need to be better prepared to educate online when events limit access or force closure. Distance learning could evolve as part of progressive educational programmes, to reach and include students from around the world. We have recently witnessed new distance cabinet meetings, which is a potentially more productive format for some government meetings that were traditionally held in person in Downing Street.

Gearing for a new operations model?

If it proves beneficial and desirable to any business to retain some of the flexibility (working locations and hours) that we are currently experiencing, then they will need to look beyond ad hoc arrangements (temporary home office set-ups) and daisy-chained systems (email, phone, text, MSM, etc). 

It is not only large enterprises that can take advantage of secure, reliable, quality audio visual systems.

If more people are to work regularly from home, not only communications but also security, compliance and responsible management will become key issues that need to be addressed. Management ‘line of sight’ will need to be established and audit trails will become even more important. Copying files and duplication will need to be eliminated to manage risk and maintain compliance with strictures such as GDPR, as well as to embed operational efficiency to .

We can help you to connect staff, partners and suppliers wherever they work in the world. Our audio visual systems are designed – for ‘normal’ times – to help customers achieve the simplest, smartest forms of AV communication and collaboration.

If you learn any positive process management and efficiency lessons during this enforced time of mass working from home, consider continuing them further by using the right tools.

Carillion Communications is happy to provide practical advice based on more than 25 years' experience in audio visual systems.

We wish everyone a safe passage. 

Here are some of the benefits of working from home with Carillion Communications audio visual collaboration systems.

  • Access for all, with instant face to face meetings across secure, reliable connections

  • A selection of platforms and equipment for clear images and audio

  • Easy, fast, secure log-ins for multiple participants

  • Simple scheduling and invitations

  • Secure content sharing from remote locations

  • Assistance with a standardised technology approach for working from home

  • Access to workflow tools

  • Annotations and document notes make collaboration easier

  • Compliance: no need to copy files or take files home

  • Environmentally friendly (Green): no need to copy files to take them home

  • Security and risk management: files are not duplicated or removed from secure locations

  • Cost effective company-wide AV solutions

  • Potential to reduce office overheads

  • Significantly lower travel costs

  • Improved work-life balance for staff

  • Win back wasteful commuting time

  • Potential for innovative flexi-hours working

We will try our best to help you find the right solution to improve your business operations.