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COVID-19 Work From Home Practices May Be Here To Stay

With working from home becoming mandatory for a large majority of the Australian workforce this year thanks to COVID-19, both management and employees across all sectors have quickly had to adjust to a new way of working. 

While the IT industry has adapted better than most, it’s still been a shift with all employees having the chance to enjoy greater work flexibility. Not surprisingly, many want to keep this going post-pandemic. 

Here’s a few reasons why working from home may become a permanent fixture of the work world once the pandemic phase is over. 

The Stats Are In – Many Employees Are All For Working From Home

A recent Skillsoft survey of more than 2300 workers and jobseekers across Australia, Malaysia, and Singapore found that only 11% are content to revert back to their pre-pandemic working ways. Almost 90% said they wanted to adopt at least one COVID-19 practice permanently in their daily lives.

Looking deeper, 59% of respondents said they wanted more flexibility in their working hours, with 58% seeking a permanent work from home option. While this is just one study, there are many others worldwide producing very similar results. 

Truly forward-thinking companies, especially those in the candidate-driven IT sector, will take heed of this strong employee desire for greater work flexibility, and adapt their recruiting practices accordingly. In doing so, they’ll be the ones to reap the rewards in accessing top IT talent, while enjoying greater employee engagement, and retention.

The Management Resistance Hurdle Has Been Conquered

Across most industries, management has tended to frown upon allowing employees to work from home, citing lost productivity and colleague connection among two reasons.

While the IT sector has been less resistant than most thanks to the prevalence of remote workers, upper levels of management have still held fast to the belief that all should work from the office if they can. 

But when COVID-19 hit, it forced manager’s hands, giving them the opportunity to really see what working from home can produce. And it seems that those productivity fears have been somewhat allayed, according to recent research from CQUniversity and University of New South Wales.

Across June and July 2020, a survey of 6,000 Australian public servants (including 1,400 managers) was conducted. It found almost 35% of managers believed their employees were more productive when working from home, with 57% saying their productivity level remained the same as when working from the office. Amazingly, only 8.4% of managers believed their employees were less productive when working from home.

Employees cited a number of reasons for a rise in productivity, including less meetings, a better reliance on technology to share work and communicate with colleagues, and increased visibility of their colleagues’ availability.

But The Office Isn’t Quite Dead, Yet

While the benefits of working from home for many employees seem clear, there are still challenges, particularly in relation to feelings of isolation and disconnection from the team. 

Given these facts, it’s highly unlikely we’ll see a widespread uptake of a ‘virtual office’ only structure. However, there is still plenty of scope for tweaking the traditional model, and incorporating the best bits of working from home. 

How that plays out for your business and employees may look quite different to how it does to your competitors. But if you want to retain and attract the best talent, it may be worth reviewing your employees’ recent experiences with working from home to uncover their thoughts and desires. If you’d like some assistance on that front, please let us know, as we’d love to help.

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