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COVID-19 may change workplace models forever: Podcast

While some employees may have been able to access work from home (WFH) policies in the past, the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that almost everyone who can technically work from home is currently doing so.

But how do people feel about this? And will WFH practices become the norm for many in the future?

Dr Sarah Bankins, a senior lecturer from the Faculty of Business and Economics at Macquarie University, wrote about this recently for the university’s The Lighthouse publication, and Education Review caught up with her to explore the subject further.

Bankins contends that, while technologies such as Zoom, Google Hangouts and Skype have existed for some time and offer the workforce a way of communicating that is functional, they are far from perfect. Connectivity issues, slow internet speeds as well as technical glitches can impede businesses trying to communicate on a regular basis.

Because it is too early to empirically conclude what impacts WFH will have on employees’ productivity and wellbeing, Bankins says social media has helped to identify three distinct types of people who look at WFH in vastly different ways. For instance, some prefer working from the office and having a clear demarcation between work and home, as well as fewer or no disruptions.

On the other hand, Bankins has identified another group of individuals who are enjoying the flexibility WFH gives them, and the opportunity to be productive outside of the traditional 9 to 5 working hours.

Finally, there is the third group of individuals who “want the best of both worlds”, and Bankins says they are probably in the majority.

Although many businesses will find it difficult to move towards a WFH policy, Bankins says that ongoing overheads such as rent and electricity may push more white-collar professionals such as lawyers, accountants and other office workers to reconsider their operational models.

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