Q: In light of the adverse effects that Covid-19 has had on our business environment, shouldn’t we adopt flexible working even after the pandemic ends? My employer has been unwilling to consider this idea yet it is now very clear that most of my colleagues can work from home. Is it that the risk of letting employees work from home is greater than the reward?
We are facing unprecedented times in the wake of a flaring global pandemic that has seen society reassess its norms, including the posture towards work, and the workplace.
The risk of contracting Covid-19 has steered the world towards new approaches to social interactions, and compelled organisations to embrace flexible working, including having their employees work from home where possible.
The history of work is partly rooted on the premise where employees are present within the workplace, often in proximity to a near-omniscient supervisor.
This background could inspire a mindset that closely associates physical employee presence with productivity, thereby nursing organisational reluctance to adopt the practice of working remotely.
The world has since undergone much change in the course of which certain existing work practices are now obsolete.
You can effectively carry out some duties remotely under the supervision of a boss with whom you do not share a time zone or location.
Today, occupying office space physically and adding value at work can indeed be mutually exclusive, something that would not have been inconceivable for hunters and gatherers.
Research suggests clear economic benefits of adopting the practice of working from home, among them cost savings from reduced office acreage, and time and expenses spent travelling to and from work.
Drawbacks and challenges of working remotely have been cited too, including supervisory hurdles and instances of employees taking undue advantage of the freedom, but such factors do not invalidate the case for greater work flexibility.
Organisations could consider the cultural, structural and technological adjustments required to enable at least part of their workforce to work from home part time.
It is possible to engender greater workplace flexibility without undermining organisational objectives or stifling the social heartbeat at the workplace.