As of March 20, the German government lifted the mandate requiring employers to allow their employees to work from home. As the COVID situation steadies, this aligns with a global push to get people back to the office. Now, while we don’t expect people to be rushing back to their offices right away, it does imply a significant switch back to, literally, business as usual. Or does it? We’re here to answer the questions, what does the future of working from home look like now, and how best can companies adjust after two years of home office?
What is the current situation?
Countries are slowly but surely relaxing workplace COVID restrictions. While this indicates a welcome return to pre-2020 life, there are lots of things companies must consider. Certainly, companies are faced with the question: well, what now?
Some companies, like Goldman Sachs, took a hard-nosed approach, ordering everyone back to the office with embarrassing results. Others are left considering their options. After all, let’s not disregard all that we’ve learned in the last two years.
How does the future of work look?
First of all, remote work works. With companies experiencing increased levels of productivity and happier employers, resulting in reduced turnover, flexible working isn’t just enjoyed by employees, it’s good business. And yes, employees do love it. So much so a recent Buffer survey indicated a whopping 95% of employees wish to keep a remote or hybrid work policy.
With stats like that, it’s highly unlikely employees will be forced back into the office, and we definitely advise against that kind of thinking. The fight for talent in Europe is already grossly competitive, and companies run a real risk of losing this battle if they’re unwilling to be flexible.
Instead, it’s well past time companies looked at future-proofing their permanent work policies. It’s now time to look at what has (or hasn’t) worked for your business and what your work policy should look like moving forward. But don’t worry, there are solutions, and your employees are far more likely to flourish once the upfront admin is out of the way.
Hybrid work model
The way forward is a hybrid work model. It allows working from home while also maintaining an office presence, and it’s popular. So much so German Labour Minister Hubertus Hei has proposed a permanent right to work from home bill. Now, the idea was met with criticism, however, its sheer mention indicates just how important flexible working is for companies and their employees.
First of all, it helps maintain a robust team culture and provides an opportunity for workplace connection. Employees also retain the freedom and flexibility they so enjoy.
Companies can also look to downsize their office space, potentially saving them enormous amounts on rent and utilities.
Our summary for implementing a hybrid work model
- Set clear policies and processes: By setting firm rules around flexibility, you’re less likely to be taken advantage of and can avoid confusion in the implementation of the policy.
- Consider the legalities: It could constitute a formal change in employment conditions, and current COVID contingency allowances will cease to apply.
- Ensure you have the right tools: The right technology (both hardware and software), training programmes, planning tools, educational content, and online resources are all things you need to consider to be successful.
What about relocating talent?
Another welcome advantage to reaching the tail end of the pandemic (we hope!) is that will make relocating talent easier now that borders are opening. Remote work enabled a significant portion of the workforce to return home or stay in their home countries while things remained uncertain. Now that borders are opening up, companies can start the process of relocation.
While it might feel like there is a lot of upfront investment in developing a robust, flexible work model, the good thing is that we’ve had two years to prepare. It’s very likely your policy is already halfway there.
Here at WorkMotion, we specialise in flexible work solutions. We’ve dedicated our day jobs to providing tools to promote fully compliant and straightforward global hiring and for future-proofing your flexible work policies.