Is working from home the new ‘norm’

26th April 2022

On the 23rd of March 2020 our lives changed when an announcement was made which was about to change our lives due to the pandemic.
Schools began to close, as did shops and restaurants, furlough began and many people across the country began to work from home.

Earlier this year, the restrictions were lifted and people were encouraged to return to the office and to start to get back to some sort of normal.

However this did not come as a new form of working for everyone, as some people with office-based jobs occasionally were given the opportunity to work from home. However, now they had no choice, nobody did.

Two years on from the first lockdown how many people are still working from home and how many people have gone back to the office, is working from home the new ‘norm’?

When you come to think of it, working at home sounds great, not having to run your car into the office- saving your petrol, not having to wake up as early for the commute and sitting in traffic for hours.
Maybe you were a London commuter spending money on train tickets every day and having to deal with delayed and cancelled trains, having you home for a late time and then having to get up just as early the next day to do it all over again.
With extra time, not being spent on the commute, this may give you a chance to walk the dog and spend time with loved ones before the day gets started.

Made us more adaptable to change

—Alicia Moyles

Alicia has worked from home and went on to explain some strengths of working from home being, "Less travel time, more time to work, new ways of working to meet outcomes, work life balance and improve use of technology for staff."

However, by working at home you are not having to wake up as early which can in turn make you feel less productive and lacking in energy.
It can be hard to switch off in the evenings due to your work space now being shared with your home and relaxing space.
You may find yourself working longer hours than you did and not have time to take a break.
Looking at a screen all day can in turn make you more feel more fatigued and not having the energy to exercise in the evening or do things that you usually would if you were working in the office.

Feeling remote

— Alicia Moyles

Alicia also described some weaknesses with there being "no chance to have corridor conversations"

Corridor conversations are something that were part of almost every workplace setting before the pandemic.
They were an opportunity to catch up with colleagues as well as discuss work matters.
Without these relaxed, unscheduled conversations, individuals can be left feeling isolated.

These figures show that some companies have not felt the need to bring staff back into the office, which in turn means that businesses could save money on office space which they no longer needed.
Or on the other hand, employees felt happy and safer when working from home, minimising the risk of contracting the virus during an unknown period of time.

Although, the cost benefits of working from home including travel expenses, parking, and train tickets.
More recently we have seen a surge in the price of energy which is in turn creating an added element of financial pressure to those who are still working from home as well as businesses and their office spaces.

As of the beginning of April the price of energy rose by 54% which would in consequence see the cost of working from home increase.
With a computer constantly running, heating throughout the colder months, lights and lamps, the cost of making lunch, and boiling the kettle all play a factor when working from home.

The price of fuel has soared in recent months which is an added cost to people who are commuting.
As well as this huge factor is the added cost to businesses and employers who rent office space.
Buying lunch on the go becomes expensive so by working at home you are able to save on this particular cost by preparing your own meals.

Do the positives outweigh the negative here?

Statistics from the ONS from January 2020 to April 2022 illustrates how people are saving money from commuting but spending more on utility bills whilst working at home:

Half of homeworkers reported spending less on fuel and parking for commuting, and two fifths (40%) reported spending less on commuting using public transport.

Figures show that 9 in 10 homeworkers who live in rented housing (92%) reported increased spending on utilities (water and electricity).

Factors to consider when working from home
Mental health and isolation became a focus in the lockdowns, but it still matters now.

Working at home can be lonely at times compared to a busy office space filled with colleagues all working towards the same goal can become a struggle.
It is therefore crucial that even though you work from home, that focus should be on wellness and wellbeing, you continue to go on walks and spend time doing things that you enjoy and communicating with colleagues even if this is virtually.

(Splash Image: Unsplash)
(Feature Image: Unsplash)