A greener workplace future?

For sure we all agree that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a large impact on the world. Nothing will be exactly the same as before, but how big the changes will be, remains to be seen.

Most also support the idea that the workplace will change and not go back to the “old normal”. So let us assume for a minute that 30% of the workforce able to work from home will continue to do so in some shape or form.

Surely this will have an impact… less daily commute alone will probably be the largest contribution to reduce CO2 emissions and thus have an immediate positiv effect on climate changes. But will it be the only one? Electricity, heating/cooling, wear and tear on the office equipment will probably be the same, maybe slightly higher as the commercial office will still be operating and the home office will also need to “run” in the daytime, where the home before was empty perhaps.

But apart from the daily commute to and from the office, the trend has shown that when forced to, online meetings to a large extend can work fairly well. This will, by all likelihood, reduce face-to-face meetings for a large part and reduce travel a lot. Even when the world re-opens the wish and need to travel will be less and this may have a even larger positive effect towards a greener world. Not good news for the airlines, hotels and travel industry in general, but good news for mother nature.

So let us embrace the changes coming – it is for the good of the world and everyone in it. The side effects of partial working from home will also be significant – benefits increased productivity, better work-life balance (if done right), less disturbances etc. So it will all be for the better is my take!

Will working from home become the new ”normal”?

The Corona pandemic has forced many companies to send their employees home. The reason for this was not because they believed working from home would be an advantage, get them better results or increase profits. It was out of mere force, a necessity.

But even before the pandemic a lot of research was done on working remote, fully or partially, and for sure this way of working is not without benefits!

–      Increases efficiency due to less disturbance and increased ability to focus

–      Environmental benefits, less traffic and saved time and cost from less commute

–      Better work-life balance for employees, being home the minute they get off work or even taking breaks to help the kids with homework and working a bit in the evening instead

–      Increased flexibility for both employer and employee, hours can be unevenly distributed, clients and colleagues may work in other timezones, take a break when needed etc.

–      Radius for seeking new employees increases dramatically, now you can search much further away from the office, even worldwide if need be

But let’s all agree, not all work under optimal conditions at home. Kids are home too, place is crowded and noisy, you do not have a choice but is forced and it all happened quite suddenly without much time to plan and organize.

According to a 2 year long study of China’s largest travel agency, performance increased by 13% and resignations dropped by 50%! The company stated it had made a 2.000 USD increased profit per employee working from home*.

Of course the conditions were different, so if we are to continue the ”working from home” for an extended period to keep social distance and reduce spread of the Covid-19 virus some conditions should be in place:

–      Working from home should be on a volunteer basis. Some like it, some don’t. I works best if not forced on people.

–      ”Home workers” should come to the office too. Working from home should be only 3-4 days per week. Going to the office, meeting people face-to-face og interacting is important too, so it should be a regular part of the plan.

–      ”Home workers” should have a dedicated place for their work. To separate work and free time. Over-working is a known downside to working from home! This does not increase performance, but may lead to stress… So a physical work space helps separate work from life and tell the employee when they are off.

–      Following a schedule (but with flexibility) and regular check-ins by the manager, can increase performance further.

–      Finally to increase social interaction make sure to turn on the video in calls and not just the sound. Seeing faces, smiles and body language is very important to reduce the risk of feeling lonely and secluded.

If these guidelines are met, research shows that it will actually be a benefit for the company to continue with a part of the workforce working from home. Added benefit is also that the office will be less crowded and thus reduce disturbance and increase productivity with the people working in the office as well.

* https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/why-working-home-future-looking-technology