Articles From the Team
Has Covid-19 created a work place Utopia?
There was once a dream – it was so fantastic that it seemed like it would forever be the stuff of sci-fi and fantasy. In this futuristic and utopian dream technology allowed our families and us the ultimate in flexibility. Flexible working, flexible schooling and the ability to maximize family time whilst being the most efficient we could be at work. The end result is that we would all by super happy family units and super producers in the work place.
Then Covid-19 came along. The utopian dream become a reality.
Lots of office based workers worked from home becoming ultra efficient producers. Many of them did so sat alongside their children – enjoying online learning and virtual lessons….
And they all lived happily ever after…
Except it turns out the like all giant apes – humans are a pretty sociable animal. We thrive on contact with others, outside influences and the like. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that as the months have rolled on the voices celebrating the 100% home working utopia have started to become balanced with those who miss going into the office. The voices championing home schooling have become balanced with those who saw value in children returning to school.
So how do things look moving forward?
Interestingly none of my law firm clients have indicated that they are expecting a full time return to the office for all employees. Every single firm that I have spoken to seems to be intending to offer some measure of flexibility or agility either on an adhoc basis or around a core day structure. It seems to have been accepted that people can work effectively from home.
We do have some clients who are now actively promoting the idea that all employees in a team can work from whichever location they are in – with no requirement to ever attend an office. This is pretty rare but it is happening. Strangely the take up numbers indicate that this quite isn’t as popular as one might have thought it would be.
From an employers perspective the desire for some office working seems to center more around the training of junior lawyers (you learn such a lot by osmosis) and trying to create a team culture that engenders employee loyalty. Both of which are completely understandable. A team that never meets each other is of course much less likely to build bonds and cultural attachment – making it much more likely that people will leave.
Interestingly from an employee perspective many of the people we speak to also miss the culture building. However, the majority of interest in returning to the office seems to come from a separation perspective – ie separating work and home. Some people report that the blending of environments is making it difficult for them to switch off which is negatively impacting their mental health.
There can be no denying the world of work has been changed forever. The last resistance to flexible working blown away by necessity. But it turns out this wasn’t Utopia for all and actually more work will need to be done in order to find a balance that works for everyone.