Is working from home an aberration or liberation
WFH

Is working from home an "aberration" or liberation?

He called working from home an "aberration". This is a word that describes the departure from the normal. Strictly speaking he was right. Most of us never worked from home before the Pandemic.

17 March 2021

He called working from home an "aberration". This is a word that describes the departure from the normal.Strictly speaking he was right. Most of us never worked from home before the Pandemic.

But what he said afterwards, really took the press by surprise.

"I do think for a business like ours which is an innovative, collaborative apprenticeship culture, this is not ideal for us and it’s not a new normal", he said.

Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon wanted to send out a clear message. He expected his 34,000 employees to return to the office after the Pandemic.

Whether you agree or disagree with his stance, this is a serious issue which has become a real headache for human resources.

What do talented and highly skilled workers want? Do they want more money, more work flexibility or both? If they fail to get it right, the talent that they are trying to attract could go to the competition.

The problem is that both settings have their benefits. There is the social interaction we get in the office which can spur creativeness and innovation, while working from the comfort of home can give you the freedom to focus on your work.

This is a complex topic. But whether we like it or not, this is an issue that will need to be addressed once the Pandemic comes to an end. So, what’s the solution?

Why not ask people?

It seems pretty obvious. If you don’t know the answer to something, then ask. So that is what I decided to do. I did a little research. I conducted a poll on LinkedIn to see what my followers thought. The results were interesting.

Although there are people who would rather work permanently from home, and there are also those who would rather work full-time in the office, both sets of people are in the minority.

In fact, from the 852 people that participated in my poll, just 9% stated that they would prefer to "work from home" permanently, while 7% would like to be "full-time in the office".

Remarkably, a huge 63% of the participants said they would rather work "2-3 days in the office a week". In other words, they would like a little bit of both worlds.

Interestingly, 20% stated that they would like "a setting of their choice". I put this in because the whole structure of the office is now changing. Many companies have been experimenting with “hot desking”, where employees use temporary desks in the office, but only when they need to visit the office i.e. for a meeting.

There is also a rising co-working culture, where companies are using co-working spaces as a cheaper alternative to renting offices. A co-working space can be anywhere. In theory, employees could be given the flexibility to choose the location of their co-working office.

I think the general conclusion here is that people want flexibility and the freedom to decide where and when they want to work. This is an area that human resource departments will need to address when they put together an employment package.

Survey: What would be your ideal work arrangement in the future?

 test

What my survey revealed is that most participants want a more balanced lifestyle than before. There is a sense of liberation from being able to pick.

Including flexible working as part of an employment package could, therefore, add considerably to a company's employer brand in the post-Pandemic world. By offering employees the freedom to choose where they work, this widens the talent pool that a company can hire from.

It can also help retain employees who might leave for a competitor that offers workplace flexibility. Working from home may be an aberration, but it seems flexible working has become the very definition of liberation for many talented workers. It might be worth listening to these needs during the hiring process.

Luca Semeraro

Head of Badenoch & Clark
Zurich, Switzerland

Follow Luca on LinkedIn