Working from home didn’t last very long did it

Sometimes we have to stop ourselves from thinking the pandemic was ages ago because in reality, we only stopped needing to wear masks everywhere in the middle of the year.

That’s tough though because no sooner had mask mandates and other restrictions lifted than the world was reopened. Events were packed with throngs of people who just weeks ago had been holed up at home in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19.

And then the businesses started reopening and work from home orders started being rescinded.

Where just a few months ago investments were being made into the infrastructure needed to facilitate working from home, decision makers made an about turn and instead told employees to come back into the office.

These moves were alarming as there was plenty of data to suggest that employees were not only more productive while working from home, they were also happier. Of course this isn’t true for all businesses but one of the findings over the last two years has shown that engaging with employees and opening a dialogue regarding where an employee would be most productive is key to success.

And yet come July of last year, local employers were already expressing a desire for workers to return to the office.

Why was this the case? One reason is collaboration, and work which requires such suffering while working remotely. Anecdotally speaking, Hypertext has also returned to the office in a hybrid fashion and since this move, collaboration has improved greatly. While we make use of email and the likes of Slack, there’s just something better about asking a question to a room of people. Even just coming up with ideas or solutions to problems is easier with people who have different experiences and opinions around you.

However, we now need to ask the question of whether working from an office is sustainable for employees

Earlier this year when fuel prices skyrocketed following continuous strain in the global economy, some Gauteng residents would’ve spent 45 percent of their salaries each month, simply traveling to work.

Add to this the fact that owning a vehicle now costs R10 165 per month and one has to question how hybrid work or full work from home arrangements aren’t more popular.

There is however, one rather large elephant in the room that makes working from home nearly impossible – loadshedding.

With South Africa having been hit with hardcore loadshedding toward the end of 2022, many citizens were likely thankful that they had an office to go to rather than being forced to find ways to work from home.

There are then, clearly benefits and downsides to working from home but as we’ve said time and time again, finding a solution requires communication with the entire company. It’s important to remember that undertaking a task like shifting to working from home will lead to some redundancies and in the face of a recession, this is ill-advised.

What may make sense is to have part of a workforce working from home if only to free up office space for those who do need a permanent office. The most important thing that has come from the last two years of this upending pandemic is that communication is incredibly important.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]


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