POSTED: 14 Jan, 2022

Working from home and flexible workplaces

After almost two years, how has COVID-19 shifted the way we work from home and the office?

Working from home

Working from home has provided many benefits for many employees around Australia, and also around the world. Hundreds of hours of reduced travel time to work and costs associated with commuting including parking, myki or opal card and buying lunch, allowed workers to keep more of their pay in their pockets. Most would overlook these as part of an everyday routine, and would notice a considerable decline in their savings balances at the end of a pay cycle after having to pay for these expenses.

A considerable amount of businesses and their employees have had to make a drastic adjustment in the way they operate due to COVID-19, but has in fact accelerated what would have occurred in the next decade. Small and large businesses had to quickly pivot their operations to ensure employees were able to fulfill their duties at home, the same way as they would at the office. As time went on, the fatigue from COVID-19 largely caused a divide in the way people would prefer to operate, as the novelty of working from home started to diminish over time throughout the pandemic.

Waking up without having to worry about what outfit to pick for your day made the day more comfortable, at the expense of possible productivity. We know there are many distractions when it comes to working from home, such as the dog barking, babies crying or tracking your eBay parcel. In saying this, there are those that are very satisfied with working from home, as it caters to their personal situations such as being a carer or looking after a newborn.

PwC Australia future of work lead Ben Hamer said the firm’s research into the shift to remote work found three-quarters of Australians want a hybrid of home and office working post-pandemic. Only one in 10 wanted to return to working five days a week in an office environment. A hybrid environment allows for the flexibility of having days where you can work from the comfort of your home, whilst still being able to connect with your colleagues once you are back in the office. A hybrid arrangement is very attractive for new talent and should result in overall increased employee satisfaction.

Issues with working from home

There are others which were not so lucky, such as the businesses with leases they must pay for an empty office or shop. Employees who were stood down or made redundant/terminated due to closures were also substantially impacted. There are also concerns surrounding reduced physical activity and possible loneliness due to isolation which can lead to other mental health issues. Mental health is a major issue which needs to be more widely addressed as many suffered some form of mental health issue during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The anxiety around the virus, as well as increased workloads caused burnout for many where assistance was required to cope. People affected by mental health should seek assistance as soon as possible, and not let their negative feelings bottle up.

For many there was no physical separation between home and work-life as they both seem to have been blended together with days seeming almost connected. It is therefore important to be able to ensure employers and their staff separate the days by allocating sufficient time for lunch, families and exercise after work.

Communication issues such as internet connection failure or the ease of misreading cues via electronic communication may result in communication breakdown amongst peers.

As you save money on reduced transport and commutation costs, the average worker is spending more money on groceries per month whilst working from home.

For employers, the ability of oversight is severely reduced as the physical separation between the employees and employers may result in a reduction in accountability and output.

As employees get used to saving more, will they want to spend this when things start to open back up?

Cafes and restaurants are yearning for people to spend as they used to, to recoup lost revenue. Do you pay $5 for a coffee in Flinders Lane or make one using your coffee machine from home before you leave work? These are questions many Australians think about now as saving is on the forefront of many peoples minds other than the pandemic.

The Great Resignation

The Great Resignation a term being thrown around is now of greater concern for businesses as they struggle with retaining staff and being able to pay the additional salary increases due to increased workloads within certain industries. In the Accounting industry, many employees who were previously laid off are now being rehired with pay increases after being subsequently reinstated as a skills shortages became commonplace.

Through the use of Zoom and Microsoft Teams in this current environment, MDC ensures that all of our client’s needs are continuing to be met wherever they are based. This added flexibility allows our customers to receive the accounting services they require through a zero contact method, which safeguards the well-being of our clients and staff.