Now that we’re back in a national lockdown, it may seem as if nothing has changed since I wrote my last blog about starting a business in a pandemic a few months ago. But with Covid-19 lingering around for a lot longer than we expected, many businesses are now thinking about their current and future steps, exploring what they can do to be as sustainable as possible, with or without factoring in coronavirus. With this in mind, as staff wellbeing and business health are top priorities, what will companies look like in a post-Covid world?
Unfortunately, it isn’t an illusion; here we are in lockdown 2.0. The few of us who may have tasted a hint of normality when offices reopened in September are now resuming to work from home, as per the government’s latest guidance. And the statistics reflect this: it is estimated that 4 out of 5 Brits are working from home according to numbers released by Centre for Cities, a UK-based think tank.
With so many of us working remotely, what difference is it making? A bit like Marmite, you either love or dislike WFH, depending on your individual preference. Whilst some enjoy the fact they can go for a run with the dog and make it home way before a 9:00am start, others find it difficult to be away from the office environment, particularly if they live by themselves.
It is why going forward, businesses would do well to ensure everybody’s needs are catered for, and this might just be through a more balanced working week. A poll conducted by market researcher, Ipsos MORI, highlighted that 54% of participants stated their work-life balance was preferable when working from home. Yet, other research undertaken by Totaljobs, pinpointed 46% of UK workers experienced loneliness when remote.
Working from home is never going to be a one-size-fits-all solution, yet what can be said is that having the choice to balance our own work lives is empowering and has real value to people and businesses. The flexibility that home working enables is something which many want to take forward, especially as it feeds into a company’s healthy culture at large.
We are building a business during the middle of a pandemic here at Amodal, and started one at our home desks when the first lockdown began. We recognise that staff mental wellbeing is a pillar of our sustainability, along with our financial health and environmental effect on the planet. Therefore, if we are to begin office working at some point, we are going to make sure we do it to suit the requirements of our staff. If they would prefer to have a balanced working week in which they come into the office for a few days, then we’ve got to really think about where we work. Long-term office leases will, I daresay, fade away with companies opting for short-term contracts where workers come in for face-to-face meetings, to boost morale and team culture. This makes more business sense financially and culturally. We would, however, have to consider whether short-term lets are viable; if the office is unoccupied 40% of the time and you’re still paying for the space, it might be tricky.
Whilst WFH is having an impact on air quality – remote working is keeping air pollution down, with Breathe London data revealing that emissions reduced 25% during the normal morning commute and 34% during the evening – household energy consumption during winter is on the rise. Will this increase inspire homeowners to consider alternative, sustainable solutions? Maybe. There are a lot of questions to be asked.
People, profit and the planet are the three Ps of what makes a sustainable business. Even though it may be difficult to give accurate projections as to how businesses might look in a post-Covid world, there are plenty of options on the table for companies to create models that work for them and their employees. Working from home is giving people flexibility at a time where most of us feel out of control. It’s allowing us to strive for a better sense of stability, which is key to happiness. If life is all about finding the perfect balance, why shouldn’t the working world be any different?