Star comment: Some of our old ways are gone for good

Prior to the lockdown of spring 2020, few office workers imagined they’d be allowed to ditch the commute and go to work in their casual clothes. Yet the lockdown has prompted a shift in working practices that has been both expedient and sustained.

Working from home.
Working from home.

While once workers might have considered the work-at-home rule a charter to skive, and while bosses might have resisted it at all costs, Covid has changed it for good.

The fact of the matter is that home working has been enormously beneficial for the economy, for individuals and for the environment.

Workers no longer have to slug it out in choking streets as they weave their way to work in polluting vehicles. They do not have to add long periods of time to their working days as they miss out on family time with loved ones. And they can work productively from home spaces, thereby saving their employers considerable sums in overheads.

There are details, of course, that don’t fit in with that overview. Some people do not have the space to work from home and find it challenging. Others are unable to find a quiet space without interruption and others consider home working an intrusion. Then there are issues surrounding productivity. While many might work assiduously and in good faith, a few will not. Managing a team remotely can prove challenging. There is the absence of human connection; the important, creative discussions at the water cooler, the face-to-face dialogue that helps to motivate and inspire.

Yet such obstacles can be overcome. Zoom has been ubiquitous. As lockdown continues to ease, we can schedule time in the office so that managers and their charges can get together and thrash things out. A hybrid model is evolving in which home working and in-office working becomes the new normal.

Some of the old ways are gone for good. The days of travelling from the West Midlands to London for a half-hour meeting are probably at an end. It has also allowed people more flexibility to work around their own personal circumstances.New routines are emerging for many people and firms.

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