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  • Tom Sermon

Work from home - a shift accelerated by COVID-19

We are entering a whole new era of working from home, a shift in working practises accelerated by the global pandemic of COVID-19. Companies and employees have had to evolve and adapt to this new, and perhaps not so temporary, working environment. Many offices are being closed all over the world and/or consolidated enabling cost saving initiatives for businesses. The pandemic, combined with businesses' reactions, has ultimately brought flexible working to the forefront of short and long term business strategies. The sudden shift has made employers and employees realise the benefits and challenges of working from home more so than they might have done previously.

In the UK, we have seen a rise in the number of people relocating to areas outside of their place of work, outside of the cities, as their employer takes on a more flexible working ethos. COVID-19 has pushed the work from home trend sky high with Microsoft and Zoom being two companies that have seen shares soar due to the increased demand in technology that can facilitate workplace communications.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has fundamentally shifted the way in which people work. As a result, traditional office jobs may never be the same. The pandemic forced millions of employees to work remotely, and numerous companies have elected to make this move a permanent feature of their business models. However, in order to maximise the benefits of working remotely, ways must be found to ensure people remain productive and connected while not being overburdened.”
“Companies need to look at the pandemic as an opportunity to modernise how people work.”

John Trougakos: Associate Professor,

Organizational Behaviour and HR Management, University of Toronto

Even though the pandemic has already began in 2019, we are still seeing businesses learning to adapt to the change. Call centres, meeting rooms, open plan offices, retailers and pretty much everybody else has had to embrace the change and invest in a digital transformation that will enable businesses to continue to function, for employees to continue to work effectively and for communication to be as effortless as possible.


The ONS (Office for National Statistics UK) stated that in April 2020,

"46.6% of people in employment worked at home the majority of the time... and of these people 86.0% did so as a result of the coronavirus pandemic."

Moreover, the BBC’s Future Forum research found the majority of these individuals never want to go back to the old way of working.

"Only 12% want to return to full-time office work, and 72% want a hybrid remote-office model moving forward."

Thus, businesses are adapting to a shift in culture and employee demands for more flexible working.


With this shift comes the greater demand for technology to help businesses, and their employees, deal with the situation as it continues to evolve further. Hardware, software, cloud, cybersecurity, conferencing and mobile solutions are all required by businesses to ensure that they stay operationally effective. Companies must embrace technology, evolve to say ahead and ultimately empower themselves to meet the demands and challenges that lay ahead.


Here, at Arc Phoenix, we are dedicated to helping businesses in this journey. We appreciate the challenges and also understand the solutions. We have partnered with leaders in information technology manufacturing such as Lenovo and technology distributors such as Tech Data and Exertis as well as over 16 other partners to provide a complete IT offering.

“...new social contracts between employers and workers centre on blending in-person offices with remote capabilities as well as traditional office hours with asynchronous work, all enabled by technology. As a result, when I think about the future of work and how it will evolve in years to come, I believe our workday will be more virtual and automated. The rise of 5G networks and connected machines will enable virtual on-the-go workstations. These virtual stations will provide employees with all the amenities of a digital workplace, from AI-powered assistants that prep whiteboard presentations to virtual reality headsets that put you at the table of a morning meeting with co-workers around the world.
Ultimately, businesses will need to create digital workplaces that make it easier for all kinds of employees to work in flexible environments while also living their lives.

Vinod Kumar: CEO, Vodafone Business

The growing demand for webcams, laptops, IT peripherals, home monitors, business VPNs and access to dedicated cloud infrastructure are just some of the many elements that we are assisting businesses in.


“studies show that transitioning to remote work can increase performance by 13%”

Nick Bloom - Stanford Economics Professor

Work from home performance can be greatly impacted by the home office environment including the technology that they have access to and which is provided by the employer. Are the ergonomics just right? Do they need a monitor or dual monitors? Are they working only from a laptop and would they need a mouse or keyboard? Is the work VPN connectivity fast? Is the internet connection secure? Would the company benefit from cloud based applications? Do phone calls still need to be recorded? Is the webcam clear? Is the audio clear? Can the laptop handle multiple browser windows, shared screen and many programmes at the same time?

"Happiness inspires productivity"

We find that businesses who focus on providing their employees with the tools to meet the challenges of work from home, who ensure that their employees are empowered to be their best are more likely to succeed with higher performance.


Is this growing trend of long term flexible working going to continue? The BBC wrote an article on the day of writing this stating that the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has reported that we are at the peak of unemployment within the UK and the tide is about to turn. (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-56149661). A survey of 2000 firms within the UK shows that over half of them are planning to recruit staff within the next 3 months as they begin to ramp up operations. We assume that a significant number of these staff will have flexible working benefits and at Arc Phoenix we are ready to assist businesses with the IT tools required to support this positive news as the country continues to recover.

The world is dynamic, technology is always evolving, embrace it. On this note I leave you with the following:

"COVID-19 has made our Technology Vision trends more relevant and urgent than before. Opportunities that businesses expected to have years to prepare for are quickly approaching. To meet these challenges, organisations will need to innovate, invent, and redefine themselves. People are depending on technology more than ever. How quickly and responsibly enterprises deploy it matters more than ever, too. We are living in an unprecedented time, heading into a fast-changing future."

Accenture


At Arc Phoenix, our ethos of a personal touch and keeping things simple and seamless for clients ensures that we can provide fantastic value for money solutions that will equip businesses to deal with this WFH shift and without compromise. Get in touch with us today to learn more.


www.arcphoenix.co.uk


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