Home working is here to stay – but how can businesses adapt?

posted by 2 weeks ago in Features

The COVID-19 pandemic has been disruptive to businesses, and that’s putting it mildly. From shuttered shops to socially distanced workplaces, the commercial world has seen business-as-usual turned on its head as the global health emergency works as a catalyst for change. Nowhere has this been more visible than in offices, many of which still lay empty as staff have taken to working from home.

With figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showing that in April alone some 46.6% of the UK workforce did at least some work from home, there can be little doubt that the nation’s approach to the traditional working week has changed. In a survey conducted by the British Council for Offices (BCO), it was found that only 30% of workers planned a full return to the five-day in-office working week, with 46% intending to split their time between the office and home.

Whilst this is all great news for employees who’ve enjoyed regaining some form of work life balance, it throws up the question of how businesses can adapt. Here we look at how you can come up to speed with the new normal.

Make a schedule and stick to it

Perhaps the most important thing for business owners and managers to realise is that just because they’ve brought their job home with them doesn’t mean they should blur the lines between work and free time. Doing so is a notorious productivity killer, so try starting your working day as you would when travelling into the office. You’ll be focussed on the task at hand from the word go and by taking regular breaks you’ll keep your alertness levels up too.

Remember that even though you’re in the comfort of your own home, you’re still at work. Have a schedule, get the job done, and take enough time away to recharge.

Keep in touch

Whether you’re a sole trader, manage a major corporation, or own a family-run company, connection is an unavoidable part of business. Losing the ability to communicate with colleagues, customers, or suppliers could see your business run into stormy waters. When you’re working from home, it’s often hard to get everybody singing the same tune about communications, and between Skype, Zoom, Teams and other platforms there’s a complete lack of synergy that makes it unnecessarily hard to do business.

This is where a solution like VoIP could come in. Standing for Voice Over Internet Protocol, it’s been around for quite some time and could be all your team need to make telephone calls via the internet to anywhere in the world as if they were in the office. It’s flexible, reliable, and can even be cheap if you shop around for the best VoIP deals.

Keep tabs on your team

There’s no getting away from the fact that we’ve all found ourselves in an unprecedented situation that has no clear roadmap. People are anxious and worried enough as it is, and so it couldn’t be more important for managers to keep tabs on their people to ensure that they’re coping with work away from the office. From encouraging your team to take regular breaks through to creating wellness plans, a little sensitivity can go a long way.

Businesses should take advantage of technology, too, as working from a keyboard and screen away from colleagues can be demoralising. From video conferencing to friendly calls using a VoIP system, let your staff know that they’re not alone.

Whatever your business does, keep things current and remember that your team should only ever be a call away.