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Working from home versus the office – where do people want to work in the future?

Posted by: Sharon Dunleavy
12/04/21

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, hearing the term ‘working from home’ has become commonplace. No longer is it just a perk for the few, or something we might need to do as a one off to juggle childcare or deliveries. As a business, WRS has taken the view that there is a need to continue what the pandemic has started and that flexibility for our team members could be beneficial even when life returns to ‘normal’. However, we know not all employers are able to do this, nor do all employees have the opportunity or option to work from home (WFH). We were interested to understand how people do want to work in future and last month we produced a poll on LinkedIn. We are delighted with the level of engagement from our followers, receiving over 2,250 votes. The results were as follows:

  • Work from home all week = 24%
  • WFH 2-4 days per week = 50%
  • WFH 1 day per week = 11%
  • Work at Office all week = 15%

It’s interesting to see that over half of all respondents would like the flexibility of a split working week with only a quarter opting for a WFH exclusive scenario. However, these statistics only tell half the story.

To understand peoples’ preferences, we must understand their motivations. At WRS, we work hard through consistent communication from the senior management team to get to know our team members, their circumstances and preferences, so we can support them better in times like this. We understand not all employees have the option to work from home, even within our own business and the industries we specialise in. In January, we posted a blog on this exact topic, COVID-19 – What if you cannot work from home?, covering the challenges faced by seafarers throughout this period.

Alongside these quantitative results from the poll, we also received several valid comments, which opens up even more questions around this topic. Below, we’ve taken some of the comments (highlighted in bold) and written our response beneath, focusing on what WRS has done internally to address these common-place concerns.

Could there be a fifth option, "back in work"? Let’s be focused on getting the people without work back into a job and contributing to the economy, increasing levels of worth and value, and having a workforce with increased levels of self-belief. Those in work should consider themselves lucky irrespective of their work pattern, now or in the future.”

This is very pertinent for us as a recruitment agency. We are very aware that some people have not been so lucky and have found themselves without work during the pandemic. WRS is a workforce solutions provider assisting candidates within the Maritime, Energy, Mining, Technology, Commodities and Oil and Gas sectors to find new roles. If you have found yourself out of work and need help to move forward in any of these industries, please check out our website for our latest roles and follow us on LinkedIn, both in the UK and in Singapore.

Here is another valuable comment from one of our followers:

“WFH is a fallacy. Productivity, drive, synergy and focus that one gets from office, in the vicinity of colleagues, is way more than working in obscurity (from home).”

We understand that the WFH model doesn’t work for all. At WRS we have given our consultants the empowerment and accountability to work from home with all the technology to enable them to work collaboratively with team members, even when they are not actually physically together. Technology has played a vital role in bridging the gap between people who are isolated or alone, and enabling productivity through team work, even when those teams are scattered around the world.

“I believe the question asked should have been: would you like to work in a safer environment? Nowadays, the pandemic is affecting everyone, either employed or unemployed people. Therefore, I reckon it paramount to go back to the office once we are fully happy it’s in a safe setting.”

Health and Safety is very important for us at WRS and forms part of our core values. Whether it be introducing new safety measures for our seafarers or setting up wellbeing initiatives for our office workers, we understand it is vital to understand and support both the physical and mental wellbeing of our employees.

“Work From Anywhere (WFA) would be a better term instead WFH. It is also recommended that WFH should not bound to location or specific working time, in other words "free from any criteria" with exemption of work requirement OR role of employee.”

The location is not important: working from home, in the office or even from the local park is still working. However, the ‘WFA’ and ‘at any time’ method could be a disadvantage for some employees who may not be able to switch off and for an employer who may have specific deadlines to meet. It is very much a personal choice, so long as both the business and employee are in agreement and expectations are fully understood there is no reason why this shouldn’t work.

As the situation develops around the globe, it’s safe to assume that working requirements will also transform but currently it looks like WFH is here to stay for at least the near future, possibly the distant future too. Our hope is that other companies will address this topic with the full interaction of their employees and work with them to create a harmonised workforce. We have already listened to the opinions of our employees and are adapting our work processes to enable flexibility for all. As we are a global business, we have different scenarios happening throughout our offices, and whilst we are all working hard whether it be at home of in the office, it’s clear the WRS ‘community’ can’t wait to be back together.

ABOUT WRS

WRS can save you time and money by supporting internal resources, providing you with the best pre-qualified candidates when you need them. We are a workforce solutions company with offices in Europe, the Middle East, APAC and the Americas, supporting the needs of businesses around the world. We employ specialist sector consultants, who can help you to identify the expatriate and local personnel you need to keep your business moving forward.

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