As the number of Covid instances drops, some employers are pushing for their employees to return to the office as opposed to having them continue working remotely. There are several arguments for and against this approach. We will try and present these arguments briefly here and conclude with our prediction.
While employers consider who to bring back into the office, many workers are now realizing tangible benefits of working remotely, ranging from saving time and money commuting back and forth to the office, savings in child care costs, and the overall efficiency that many experiences while working from home. Let’s not forget the continued impact of Covid19 variants which makes many people weary of showing up in crowded offices. A January survey by Pew research center shows that 60% of workers who can do their work from home wanted to continue working from home if possible.
After informing employees that they had to be in the office three days a week beginning May 23, 2022, Apple changed its position and will continue a two-day-per-week office mandate as an official hybrid policy. Yet, an Apple employee group said the change doesn’t go far enough. Clearly, many there still prefer to work remotely. The same challenge is facing other companies including Google which initially made several attempts to bring back employees to the office but faced significant resistance and decided to reevaluate its strategy.
On the flip side, the arguments that some executives have for return to the office policy are valid too. To foster innovation and creativity, people need to occasionally be together. Brainstorming often works best when teams sit together in the same room, bounce off ideas, hash out arguments, map out strategies on a whiteboard, and find solutions collectively. Video conferencing is not always the answer for all situations.
Perhaps a happy medium would be to allow those workers who can continue working productively from home (or other remote locations) to keep doing so, without compromising efficiency or further disruption to their existing operations. This is especially true for those who interact with customers over the phone or online, case in point, customer service agents in a variety of industries such as banking or teleco.
As long as customers can be served remotely, there is a strong argument for continuing to allow employees from home. A recent conversation with an AT&T representative following outstanding remote service support I received revealed that he was working from home and was much more productive in his work from the comfort of his home office. He also explained that he can provide much better service while enjoying the quiet around him.
Over the last couple of years, there has been a paradigm shift in the way we work, and companies have acknowledged this shift by changing their work practices. This also means investing in the right technology to service customers in the most personalized way possible. The need for personal touch has not gone away and often provides a competitive advantage specifically in industries where customers prefer a warmer digital engagement. Meeting consumers’ need for a personalized digital experience is an opportunity for many industries to increase sales and efficiency. This type of personal engagement can be accomplished with solutions that include video chat capabilities that are easy to embed in the organization’s online assets and are simple to use by both customers and operators.
We expect this trend to continue. There are more and more reasons why certain employees should be working remotely just as there are more reasons why consumers should be consuming services remotely and not always in a real office environment. One thing is clear, video chatting technology will be a significant part of this trend.