Millions of people have been working from home since March. The Government released a timeline and guidance for workplaces to reopen last month. However, convincing every employee to return to the office will be far from straightforward.
Many people will have legitimate safety concerns. Workplaces that fail to introduce the appropriate social distancing measures and cleaning regimes could put occupants’ health at risk.
Others, however, may not want to return simply because they prefer working from home. Whether it’s because it removes the daily commute, provides a better work-life balance or helps with productivity, some have embraced the opportunity to work from home. So reports from The Telegraph on a new working from home law will likely be welcomed far and wide.
Working from home law
Flexible working was on the Government’s agenda before lockdown, with many politicians and policy makers recognising the benefits of remote working. Now the issue is more pertinent than ever. This period has shown that people from across a wide range of industries have the capability to work from home. Companies that were reluctant to embrace home working until now will have learned that business can go on.
Nonetheless, it’s likely that many businesses will want to get “back to normal” as soon as possible. Or at least as close as they can get while adhering to guidance on social distancing in the workplace. But encouraging employees who have safety worries to return to the office will put them under unfair pressure.
The impact on businesses
A working from home law would cause a seismic shift in the way companies operate and manage their workforce. Real estate teams would have to reconsider the need for office spaces on long-term leases if they’ll never be at capacity. Meanwhile, flexible office space operators could be big winners as they provide short-term options and handle all elements of FM and IT.
Employers would need to develop new communications strategies for managing remote teams. Platforms like Zoom and WhatsApp are booming, but a working-from home-law would cause organisations to review all their options and policies. This would include analysing the ease of use, security and cost of different communication tools. Staff would also need to be trained on each tool and made aware of the official company platforms.
Employers would also need to extend their duty of care to the homes of employees. This might involve providing equipment and carrying out wellness assessments.
Savvy business leaders will already be preparing for managing remote staff regardless of whether a working from home law is enacted. Millions have had a taste of working from home and many will want to retain the option even when the office is open again.