Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few months you would have heard of the new coronavirus – Covid-19. The virus , which initially orginated in China in December of 2019, has now been officially classed as pandemic. As of the 13th of March, there are 139,074 cases globally and 5,116 deaths.The UK is currently seeing a daily rise of almost 300 cases a day.
Governments across the world are now planning to either contain the virus or delay it. The UK has now entered the delay phase which details how/when people self isolate. The policy also explains how certain vulnerable members of the population should change their habits. The delay phase both in the UK and across the world , has really centered on the idea of social distancing. This is essentially a way of limiting the spread of the virus by ensuring people keep their distance from one another. The WHO suggests keeping at least one metre away from infected people. Many countries across the world are enforcing quite strict social distancing rules – closing non essential stores, cinemas, encouraging online learning and encouraging ( or mandating) work from home.
This need for people to self-isolate and work from home , opens up an interesting debate about our corporate culture . Just how will covid-19 change our work life? According to a survey from 2018 , 1.3 million people work from home. Despite this , however, there is still a stigma attached to working from home with many saying they felt a ‘pressure’ to perform and to prove they are productive. This, despite ,clear evidence that people working from home felt they were more productive than their office based counterparts. There are obvious problems with certain sectors enforcing/encouraging work from home. Namely retail, delivery and healthcare workers. However, in an age of video conferencing facilities and stable internet connectivity, there really is no reason why home working isn’t encouraged more.
In the wake of this current crisis, many companies, both private and public are actively encouraging those that can work from home , to do just that. They are planning business continuity tests and ensuring their staff have all the equipment and software to enable work from home. The question now is, will this become the ‘New Normal’? There are already a plethora of tools around like Slack and Zoom that facilitate working from home. These applications are already well known within the technical industry. Some of the first large companies to ask their staff to work from home when this crisis began were Google and Microsoft. Twitter even promised to reimburse their staff the cost of setting up home offices.
Will we finally get to a place where this is encouraged and workers can start enjoying a better work/life balance? After all, if working from home works for the majority of employees and they don’t see any drop in productivity, why would they want to go back to that daily commute?
Does your company encourage work from home? What will you be doing during the crisis? Leave us a comment below!