What happens to the workplace now?

yellow poster, advising people not to go to work unless an essential worker due to coronavirus.

Working from home used to be something of a luxury, being able to roll out of bed and sit in your jim jams whilst working from the comfort of your sofa was seen as an easier environment to work in as opposed to your usual office-based space.

Many saw it as a welcome relief from the dull office setting that meant travelling in for 9:00am each morning, myself included.

However, since the start of coronavirus, we have all been forced to abide by lockdown rules due to the ongoing pandemic.

Many more people have had no choice but to work from home for an extended and indefinite period of time and the line between relaxation and workspace has become very blurred for many employees.

So, is working from home a better and more productive way to work? Are offices a thing of the past? Or are people itching to get back into a work based environment and a bit of normality?

Home and work environments stretch back to as long ago as medieval times, where most working-class English people lived in work-homes.

The single-story and more often than not, one room houses were “a combination of kitchen and spinning/weaving/dressmaking workshop, bedroom and dairy, dining room, butchery, tannery, and byre.”

Mac laptop on white sheets, someone taps the keypad and simultaneously eats a pastry.- https://unsplash.com/photos/rem8NLYE2Jo image free from Unsplash

Working from home has some advantages [Unsplash: The Creative Exchange]

Even back in those times, most people found it extremely difficult to differentiate between social and work life. “Managing the home meant multitasking and managing resources, finances, and the division of labor. Boundaries between home and work life, if they existed at all, were blurred at best,” said influential activist, Jamira Burley.

So are we moving backwards or is working from home a modern day relief from the pressures of capitalism and also a better way to head for the environment?

Forbes magazine conducted a survey of 312 people about working from home, the results show that the majority of respondents like working from home. When asked if they enjoyed working from home, 82% agreed or strongly agreed. 60% said they feel less stressed working from home, and 66% thought that they were more productive working from home.

A poll conducted on Instagram gave some insight into how young working professionals felt about having to work from home, with 50 people saying that they enjoyed working from the comfort of their own home, whilst 61 people said they did not like working from home.

Colette Docker from Surrey said “I don’t like working from home. You do miss the social interaction a lot, and the banter isn’t quite the same on Skype!”

Many people have taken to Twitter to vent their frustrations, one tongue in cheek user @ow wrote: “After a long day of working from home under eternal lockdown, I like to sit in a different seat in my house as a little treat.”

Another user @samjjordan spoke of distractions “One thing about working from home…I spend A LOT of time letting our cats in and out, and in and out, and in and out of the house…”

However whilst some clearly feel that the line between comfort and workspace is becoming all too thin, some are loving the experience and many businesses have taken the leap of faith and moved to home-based working indefinitely.

Fujitsu, an IT services and provider, announced its plans in July, to create a work from home environment. The Japanese technology company launched a permanent remote working plan for 80,000 of its employees in the country, which will “reduce its office footprint by up to 50% by the end of 2022.”

Alongside Fujitsu, companies such as Google, Facebook and Siemens have all taken steps to take on a home-work solution. With Siemens heading towards a permanent system, stating that workers will now “work remotely for an average of two or three days every week. The new model will be permanent, the company said, remaining in place after the pandemic has ended.”

Spotify has also made it clear to its workers that they are able to work from home. All 4,400 of its employees were told that they could work from home until next year “if they want”.

As well as being an activist and social impact strategist, Jamira Burley is the Director of the ‘Their World’ initiative which is helping children to gain an education.

She is also an Advisor for makeup brand ‘Sephora’ and is a host on the popular radio show ‘SiriusXM’. With such a busy schedule, she was able to shed some light on how she feels about working from home as an activist.

“I think for the first time since becoming an activist and working full time, I have finally found some level of life and work balance. As an activist, it’s really hard to find time to take care of yourself while you are trying to do the work but now I can fight for my community and still eat healthy, workout, and spend time with friends/and family,” Jamira told us.

Lady wearing pink suit smiling with one leg in the air. image from instagram account

Jamira Burley [Instagram: @jamiraburley]

“All of my work interactions have moved online and I find that most people are more productive; now there isn’t the need to constantly interact with people.

“I want to work in an environment that enables everyone to seek and have a full life – oftentimes the stress of being ‘on’ all day in the office is emotionally and physically draining.”

Jamira went on to say why creating effective change is so important to her, even from the comfort of her own home. “I think it requires us to be more intentional with engaging impacted communities and keeping in mind that everyone is dealing with their own baggage.”

Working from home also has a detrimental effect on companies as well as individual workers, with David Morel, CEO of Tiger Recruitment saying that businesses “will need to factor in additional costs that moving to a more remote working model may incur, such as required investment in IT infrastructure.”

Morel went on: “Beyond productivity, it’s important to consider the impact of more remote working and less office time on employee satisfaction and mental health. People may have managed well during the pandemic, but how will they cope if the arrangement becomes more permanent?”

Covid-19 has meant a huge change for many people just trying to go about their daily lives. Businesses, employees and employers have all had to change the way they work in order to keep working and keep businesses afloat.

Working from home for some is a welcome relief, whilst it is a version of hell for others. It means that some companies are reducing their office-based footprints and at the same time giving workers a more relaxed and comfortable environment to work in.

But it’s important not to overlook the mental health repercussions some people are feeling for not having their normal routines.

For some, working from home will be a new and more permanent way to the working world. However, the office-based setting is not a thing of the past and will adapt and evolve as it always has done and many companies anticipate the return to the office and a bit of normality.

 

 

 


Featured image by Daniel Lee via Unsplash CC.
Edited by Sophie Victoria Brown, Natalia Zmarzlik, Ropa Madziva, Tom Tyers and Giuli Graziano.

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