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What working from home means for students entering the workforce

If your boss can't see you sitting at your desk, how do they know you’re actually working? It turns out all they have to do is look at the results.

Employees have been asking for flexible working arrangements and more trust for a long time. Yet most workplaces put digital transformation in the “too hard” or “we’ll get there one day” basket. The thought was: if they let employees work from home, they would sit on the couch, watch TV, do chores and ignore their work.

Then along came 2020 and everything changed. Covid-19 has forced a mass adoption of remote working by even the most archaic businesses. Overwhelmingly workers have proven themselves trustworthy and many teams are finding productivity has increased.

Without the global pandemic pushing digital transformation forward, it would have likely taken another five or six years to reach the same remote working uptake. 

It’s not entirely good news, the rapid pace of change presents new challenges for IT departments managing network security and sensitive documents.

Here’s what working from home means today and how we see it looking in the future.

More flexibility for everyone

Working from home is a huge #win for employees. Even if it normally takes your parents just half an hour to get to work, they’re still saving five hours a week by skipping the commute, plus money spent on petrol and public transport. Hopefully that means more time to help with your homework or enjoy some of that “quality time” they’re always talking about.

Working from home can mean being there for package deliveries, the flexibility to make an afternoon appointment or enough time to get you to training. 

Critically, these flexible arrangements are helpful for parents and anyone caring for someone sick or elderly. Overwhelmingly women still carry the bulk of this unpaid work and working from home allows them to be both a great worker and caring mother. That’s a win!

But it can be lonely

We probably don’t need to tell you this bit seeing as you were stuck in online school too. Sure it’s a fun novelty at first but no amount of pretending to be stuck on mute or Zoom bombing can make up for seeing your friends (and even teachers) face to face.  If everyone worked or studied from home all the time, the world might become a very isolated place. 

Zoom and Slack aren’t not quite the same as meeting in person, but working from home is (ideally) more about having the flexibility and choice to do so when or if you need to. 

Less expensive office space required for businesses

Working from home is a #win for businesses too. If everyone can work remotely, is there a need for such big, expensive commercial offices in city centres? No. Desk sharing with flexible arrangements could cut the required office space in half (or more!). 

Work based on goals and measurements rather than time at a desk

As we mentioned, bosses were worried they wouldn’t know whether their workers were getting the job done if they couldn’t see them. The answer was surprisingly simple:  Employees proved themselves through the results for their work, rather than just showing up. 

It raises the question: why do we have to work 9-5? Time-based work is pretty inefficient. People finish the bulk of their work in three-to-six productive hours but have to sit there until 5pm or later to keep up appearances.

In this new world, businesses are learning to give more responsibility, trust and independence to their employees. Giving employees the freedom to work when and where they want, should mean they can work when they’re most productive, whether that’s 6am-2pm or 5-11pm! 

Delayed policies and cybersecurity issues

When employees were asking to work from home lots of businesses said “no” based on advice from their IT departments. Unsurprisingly, using new software, communication tools, platforms and home wifi networks has presented a whole range of teething issues. 

This year has forced businesses to change and while the results are so far positive, they’re still scrambling to create work-from-home HR policies and close gaping security holes. Opening the internal network up to the wider web is a security risk. 

A dedicated home workspace with boundaries

While working from home has definite advantages, at the end of the day it’s still work. Doing good work from home requires extra discipline: you need to set your priorities, remove all distractions (like videogames or social media) and create a space where you can stay focused.

Working from your bed or couch for eight hours doesn’t work. It’s essential to have a dedicated workspace and supportive chair, schedule your time well and communicate your boundaries to family, friends or housemates. Just because you’re at home, doesn’t mean you’re off the clock!

Just another trend?

We don’t think so. Working from home is here to stay. It benefits businesses and their employees and helps further equal the playing field for anyone raising a family or caring for the sick or elderly. Plus, people can work from regional areas, not just cities.

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