The post-coronavirus #workfromhome debate | Trekk Advisory

The post-coronavirus #workfromhome debate

By Tony Madden

June 23, 2020

Half of all Australians working from home during the coronavirus pandemic don't want to return to the office full-time, according to a new study. A third of us want to work remotely forever, while 86 per cent would love to stay at home at least one day a week. What gives? Could we see the end of the brick-and-mortar office? Could Zoom meetings and home-cooked lunches become part of our lives forever? It's kinda too early to say. 

The last 3 months have transformed the workplace landscape in Australia. Back in March, 88 per cent of Aussie companies required (or encouraged) employees to work from home because of the pandemic. Now, as offices turn on the lights and open their doors again, employers are weighing up the pros and cons of remote work. This is a debate that's got everyone talking!

The argument FOR #Workfromhome

No commute, no traffic, and good coffee — we've certainly enjoyed work-from-home perks. It seems like a lot of you have too. According to the State of Remote Report 2020, our five fave things about remote work are:

  1. The flexible schedule.
  2. The chance to work from pretty much anywhere.
  3. No commute!
  4. Spending time with the family.
  5. Spending time at home.

It's no wonder, then, that some of us don't want to give up this new life. 

Companies worldwide have successfully implemented work-from-home policies since the outbreak began. Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft have told employees they can work from home through the autumn months, even if offices reopen later in the summer. 

Recently, Twitter told its employees to work from home permanently, even if governments completely lift coronavirus restrictions. (Going forward, many new roles will be remote-optional.) A Twitter rep told Business Insider that employees, not managers, should decide whether to return to work, and the company will support employees' remote work arrangements. 

The argument AGAINST #Workfromhome 

We can see the other side of the argument. Some Aussies who want to get back to work miss the buzz of the boardroom, the office gossip, and the collaborative aspects of work-from-work life. 

According to the State of Remote Report 2020, our five least fave things about remote work are:

  • We can't collaborate or communicate (well, not like before).
  • The loneliness.
  • Not being able to "unplug" from work at the end of the day.
  • Distractions at home!
  • Being in different time zones to co-workers.

There are other things a lot of us hate about remote work, such as unreliable Wi-Fi, and problems staying motivated. 

Many brick-and-mortar offices will struggle to maintain their remote work programs for much longer. Plus, employers have leases to fulfil and bills to pay. It's just not feasible (financially or otherwise) to keep everyone at home forever. And, let's face it, Zoom will never replace the joy of face-to-face communication. 

Some people think remote work is a waste of time:

"I will never allow our company's employees to work from home permanently," says JT McCormick, the president/CEO of publishing company Scribe Media. "Remote work can and should be part of any company's model, but moving it to long term or indefinitely can be a big mistake."

Jack's reasoning? Remote work stunts social interactions and limits long-term innovation and growth. A great remote work culture, he says, doesn't exist. 

Plus, most of us miss chatting with our colleagues

What's the answer?

We think there needs to be a balance. Or, at least, a compromise that satisfies both the work-from-home people and work-from-work people. It all depends on the business. 

Some employers have implemented work-from-home programs more successfully than others; other employers are itching to go back to work. We suggest you talk to your team and figure out a plan that suits everyone. Some employees prefer to stay home; others prefer to be in the office full-time. And that's OK. Whatever you decide, just make sure you stick to social distancing wherever possible.

We guess the biggest deciding factor is productivity. Ask yourself: Are employees more productive at work or home? There's research that supports both, so you'll need to do your own. 

Australian companies are split on the future of work-from-home, according to a recent SmartCompany profile. Sydney wine start-up Vinomofo Co-founder Justin Dry wants to give his employees the flexibility to work from home or come to work. Melbourne internet marketing company StudioHawk Founder Harry Sanders says remote work makes it difficult to "foster fun."

We agree, Harry! After these last few awful months, most of us could do with a little fun. 

What do you think? Do you want to return to work? Or stay at home? Let us know what you think! Join our #Workfromhome debate.

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About Tony

Director & Business Advisor

Tony is a director of Trekk Advisory and based in our Brisbane office. He works heavily in the advisory space for his clients, focusing on strategic management consulting, mentoring, planning and more to make a difference in their businesses and lives.  

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