Editor: This month, we’re focusing on the topic of Remote Working and how organisations and workers are communicating. Today, we’re delighted to welcome a new guest blogger, Eve Beattie, Owner and Founder of The Hive (Magherafelt), a new coworking space in the centre of rural Mid-Ulster, Northern Ireland.
Last year, when I was investigating the possibility of opening a coworking space in my local area, I spoke to someone who said, “The 9-5 workday is dead”.
At that time it was evident that many employers were working towards a much more flexible model for their employees. Large corporates were starting to see the benefits of having support staff working from home rather than from a city centre based office with all the overheads that come with it. They were also beginning to realise that staff might actually be more productive if they were able to cut out their commute and work either at home or closer to home.
I don’t think anyone could have foreseen how rapidly that shift towards remote working was going to accelerate in 2020.
Due to the C-19 pandemic, organisations, who never imagined their staff could work effectively away from the workplace, were now being put in a position where they had no choice but to allow their staff to work from home. This has meant the shift towards remote working has been phenomenal!
Employers are Starting to Embrace Remote Working
Meetings no longer need to take place in person as Zoom (other platforms are available!) has proved we can communicate just as effectively from our home office, kitchen table or spare bedroom. And employers are now confident that just because staff can’t be seen, they can still complete their job just as effectively.
This different way of working is set to be with us for some time as we move into yet another ‘new normal’.
In fact, some employers have estimated that they will only be able to accommodate 25% of their existing staff in their main offices once they put in social distancing measures. This leaves them no option but to allow staff to continue working remotely.
But other firms, for example Google and Twitter, are so content with the effect that this change is having on business and staff alike that they have told parts of their workforce that they are not expected to ever come back into the office and they may continue to work remotely.
What Does Remote Working Mean for Employees?
Remote working is working for them too! Of that I have no doubt. I have seen it first-hand.
My husband, who usually catches the first flight to London on a Monday morning and works away for the week, has not been travelling for the past three months. Pre-Covid he worked from client sites (anywhere from London to Istanbul), attended internal company meetings in person and was encouraged to “be present” in the office. For the past 12 weeks, however, he has proved that it’s possible to lead a team and a huge transformation project from the comfort of your own home.
This Lifestyle Has Many Family Benefits
- The biggest advantage of having this extra time in the day is of course that my husband is getting to spend so much time with our young children. He is not hearing from me, in a snatched telephone conversation, that one of our children has reached another milestone. He is now able to be there and experience the joy when one of them wakes up to a coin under his pillow from the tooth fairy, and he was able to get a birthday hug on the day of his birthday from his little girl. These are all precious moments that we’re so grateful he is getting to experience during these lockdown months.
- Weekends are so much less stressful too. He use to have to cram lots into those two short days – quality family time, gardening and DIY projects, visiting parents, kids’ taxi service, catching up with friends, coaching football … all while trying to get a little R&R! Admittedly some of these activities haven’t been happening for the last few months, but even when the world does start up again, having time at home during the week to spread the load will make life a whole lot easier and the weekends a whole lot more relaxing.
- The lack of commute means that my husband is a happier, healthier and so much more energetic version of himself. He has been able to use time that would have otherwise been spent commuting, exercising and spending time in our garden instead. It only goes with reason that this time spent outdoors is so much better for his health than sitting in a car to the airport, breathing in recycled air on planes and stressing about catching connecting flights and trains.
- Even people whose commute may not be so lengthy are still benefiting hugely from getting an additional couple of hours in their day that would have otherwise been spent travelling in and out of the city five days a week. Someone who lives in Magherafelt and worked in Belfast prior to lockdown will now have an average of an extra 10 hours a week that they would have previously spent in a car or on public transport. I’m going to guess that many of them will be in no rush back to their workplace.
- Having Daddy at home has also had such a positive effect on both him and on our young children, who now have a much closer relationship. I don’t imagine there will never be work-related travel again but I’d be willing to wager a bet that the amount of travel will be significantly reduced in future. And for the sake of our family and many others out there I hope I am right.
Coworking Spaces Are Seeing a Surge in Enquiries From Remote Workers
As coworking spaces throughout the country start opening their doors again and welcoming back their communities, we are seeing an increase in the number of enquiries and sign ups from remote workers as opposed to self-employed.
Remote working doesn’t always mean working from home.
This comes as no shock because working from home isn’t always easy. For people who live alone there are real isolation issues. For those who live with others there will be many distractions. For those who live in rural settings there may be connectivity issues. And for everyone it can take a lot of discipline to shut down from work mode at a reasonable hour.
Local coworking spaces are a great solution for these issues. Being able to work from a professional environment will help you be much more productive. Being part of a community will help you feel more connected. And separating home from work in a physical sense will allow you to mentally separate them, meaning that you are more likely to switch off when you come home in the evening.
So, is the 9-5 workday dead?
I don’t think it’s dead. But I do think that the model of having to have all your staff in a physical location between 9am-5pm Monday to Friday is gone and is unlikely to return. And this is can only be a good thing for our mental and physical health.
About The Hive Coworking Space, Magherafelt
The Hive is Mid Ulster’s first coworking space providing a collaborative environment for entrepreneurs, freelancers and remote workers to work and connect. Our bright, spacious, loft-style offices are located in the centre of Magherafelt. The Hive is the perfect alternative to a traditional office, with an integrated culture and a community-based work environment. You can choose to either share ideas and work alongside others in our collaborate space, or put your head down and focus in our concentrate space. Our airy, modern, shared offices are complimented with a series of meeting rooms, which are available for you to host client meetings, training events and workshops. You can read more at www.thehiveni.com or follow us at www.facebook.com/thehiveni/ or www.instagram.com/thehive_ni/
Editor: Eve has also blogged about The Hive over on our WabiSabi blog, see New Coworking Space in Magherafelt.
To read more on remote working, see our remote working tag.