We hope you are keeping safe. The next weeks and months present personal and professional challenges. What will be the positive lessons learned that we'd like to see continue in our working lives? Will the UK change its nine-to-five culture?
Every economic shock leaves a legacy. The coronavirus pandemic will be no different. The twentieth century ‘great depression’ generated a “waste not want not” attitude that defined consumer patterns for decades.
This time it’s a public health emergency that’s shaking the world economy. In a matter of weeks, people in affected areas have become accustomed to wearing masks, stocking up on essentials, cancelling social and business gatherings, scrapping travel plans and working from home.
Traces of such habits will endure after the virus lockdowns ease, acting as a brake on demand. On the supply side, international manufacturers are being forced to rethink where to buy and produce their goods.
Office-based businesses have ramped up measures for teleworking and have become accustomed to staggered shifts, ushering in an enforced period of working from home as a part of people’s regular schedule.
Once effective work-from-home practices are established, are they are likely to continue?
Europeans aren’t working from home
A large proportion of Europeans never work from home. However, there may be elements of teleworking that have a lasting appeal to workers when the world returns to business as usual. In the UK, the average commuting time is more than one hour a day. Commentators have suggested that lengthy commuting times are a major contributor to the long-discussed work-life balance.
Phil Flaxton, of Work Wise UK, says: "Long commutes have become a part of the UK’s working culture. But the excessive time spent commuting is one of the main factors contributing to work-life balance problems. Not only is the time spent commuting an issue, the nine to five culture with its peak travel times generates congestion.”
Flaxton argues that job satisfaction can be improved, and stress levels reduced, if workers have opportunities to cut their commuting time. We may learn ‘something’ about the capability of ‘white collar’ businesses to function productively with remote workers during this time when everyone is working from home and staggering their hours.
Balancing work, family and leisure
Businesses will be able to evaluate their productivity and managers will become used to working with remote staff. When the lockdown is lifted, will we elect to do more from home, and perhaps to eliminate or reduce commuting times? Perhaps we can make new school run and other family arrangements to improve work-life balance?
Beyond the home, more of our familiar daily activities could be re-evaluated. Universities and schools will need to be better prepared to educate online when events limit access or force closure. Distance learning could evolve as part of creative educational programmes. We have recently witnessed new distance cabinet meetings, which is a potentially more productive format for some government meetings that were traditionally held in person in Downing Street.
Gearing for a new operations model?
If it proves beneficial and desirable to the business to retain some of the flexibility (working locations and hours) that we are currently experiencing, then we will need to look beyond ad hoc arrangements (temporary home office set-ups) and daisy-chained systems (email, phone, text, MSM, etc). It is not only large enterprises that can take advantage of secure, centralised digital systems with automated document workflows.
If more people are to have access to company and customer data while working away from HQ, security, compliance and responsible management are key issues that need to be addressed. Management ‘line of sight’ will need to be established and audit trails will become even more important. Copying files and duplication will need to be eliminated to manage risk and to assure compliance, as well as to embed efficiency by preventing the wasteful duplication of tasks.
We can help you to store, access, assign, share and approve documents and data, and to stay productive and fully connected with your team. Our systems are designed – for ‘normal’ times – to help customers achieve secure access from any location and to create maximum workflow efficiency.
If you learn any positive process management and efficiency lessons during this difficult enforced time of mass working from home, consider facilitating them further by using the right tools.
Our digital document management system integrates with all leading platforms and software. We are happy to provide some positive, practical advice based on more than 25 years' experience in Information capture and management.
We wish everyone a safe passage. Here are some features and benefits of remote working with Document Manager, our digital document management software that won product of the year 2019.
We will try our best to help you find the right solution to maintain or improve your business operations and workflow by enabling your business to continue with minimum disruption to service.