By Duncan Ward, Chief Executive Officer, Enreach UK.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the work commute has been reduced to a short stroll from one room to another.
Working from home has become the new normal and employee survey responses have backed up that it’s unlikely many will ever return full time to the office. And why would they? Technologies that allow smooth and effective remote working have been embraced in abundance in recent months.
But as employers learn to put their faith in their employees to work remotely, is there a risk of business leaders taking advantage, and does the new way of working impact negatively on creativity?
Expected tools to do the job
Millions of us have tested our home’s IT infrastructure to the limit throughout the pandemic. To even term it ‘IT infrastructure’ seems too grandiose.
We take for granted those tools that we need to effectively do our jobs in an office environment: business-grade broadband, stable networking allowing access to large files, a desk phone or work issue mobile, or both.
Many employees have fallen foul of the accidental appearance of a child on an all-too-serious Teams or Zoom call, or remarked on an item of curiosity in the background, or struggled to understand garbled conversation on a patchy connection.
The combining of our home and work lives has put enormous and varied pressures on employees, expected to keep up the creativity and perform at their best.
Recognising the new normal
As we enter a world where remote working could make up a large part of an employee’s normal pattern, should conscientious employers be investing in smarter remote working capabilities that not only allow efficient working but that facilitate creativity?
When enabled to be, an employee is arguably more productive away from the office. Travel time is avoided, including to meetings. Without the distractions of the office, efficiency is improved and with the proper connectivity and cloud solutions offering the chance to remain undisturbed across all connected devices, a true work-life balance can be achieved.
We’ve seen a record number of sales and enquiries from customers recognising the importance of a fool-proof home working setup, adding IT solutions and softphone functionality, allowing calls to be made and received through an employee’s laptop, alongside a ‘traditional’ desk phone.
Always on is not always ok
If the pandemic has taught us anything, facilitating improved connectivity for remote employees should now be a foregone conclusion. In the creative industries, connections with colleagues are essential to test, measure and develop ideas. But there is now an associated risk.
Enabling greater connectivity for employees also means bringing about more methods of getting in touch with them. Whether that’s by email, messenger app, a call via their desk phone, softphone, mobile phone or a video call. There’s a danger of creating an ‘always on’ culture – you’re at home, why wouldn’t you be contactable? And with everyone’s days starting and ending at different times, how do you know they’re not available?
Smart solutions can help avoid burnout by automatically and simultaneously updating every work device or app to show an employee as available or unavailable, redressing the vital work/life balance.
Investing in the new normal
Despite the learnings of the last year or more, some employers will be pleased – if not relieved – to see their employees returning to the office, but for those who will continue to work from home, proper investment in ensuring quality of service, as well as quality of life, will be critical to its success.
Duncan is CEO of Enreach UK a European UCaaS leader with a strong presence in the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Denmark, providing collaboration technology and telecoms services via its resellers, service provider partners and direct brands.