How Effective is Home Working?

Sadly, there has been no shortage of stories of businesses struggling with Covid-19 in the last year.  However, I was intrigued by the story this week about Frontier Development experiencing delays in the release of their much-anticipated Elite Dangerous Odyssey.  One would have imagined that developing video games would be one of the industries that would be least affected by Covid-19; but the company specifically cited the difficulty of coordinating activities across a large project development team when almost everybody is home working as the reason for the delay.

There has been much talk over the course of 2020 about how effective home working has been.  Indeed, many commentators have predicted that large swathes of the workforce will never return to a conventional office setting again.  However, evidence to back up the claims for the effectiveness of homeworking seems pretty scarce.  Nobody I have talked to has actually attempted, in any systematic way, to measure the effectiveness.  Even if they had attempted to; with many organisations experiencing much reduced levels of demand it would be impossible to say if current home working arrangements would cope with normal levels of activity.  My own experience, of invoices taking significantly longer to be paid over the last few months, suggests that maybe home working isn’t actually as efficient as all that.

Clearly, we will be battling Covid-19 for some time to come; and home working will be part of life for many of us for a while yet.  Undoubtedly, when we emerge at the other side, much will have permanently changed about the way we live and work.  My suspicion though is that the shift towards home working will be much less pronounced than many people have predicted.  Quite apart from arguments about business efficiency; the last few months have also exposed a range of social, health and wellbeing issues around home working.

I suspect that, as business continuity professionals, we will still be contingency planning for loss of office space for some time to come.  Hopefully though, lessons learnt from home working through Covid-19, will enable us to plan much more effectively for this in the future.

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