Discipline and patience

With the country in the middle of yet another lockdown, Terry Sharp examines a potential shift toward long-term remote working policies.

Well, here we are almost approaching a year since the first UK lockdown came into effect, and I am sure I am not alone in feeling a little bit déjà vu. I am writing this not long after Boris Johnson announced that we would enter another full lockdown, with schools closing and people only travelling to work if it is unreasonable to work from home. Perhaps the one small consolation we can take is that we are getting used to these habits now and so it is not quite so much of a shock to the system as it was the first time around. Difficult times continue then, at least until we have made some decent headway into the number of vaccinations administered. Discipline and patience are therefore required once again in order to get through this current setback.

Remote working has very much became the norm for people who were able to do so – and there are already signs that this will trigger a longer-term trend, with companies such as Google and Warner Music Group adopting flexible working policies. Siemens also announced that mobile working would become a permanent standard, both during the global pandemic and beyond, enabling employees to work on a mobile basis for an average of two or three days a week, whenever reasonable and feasible.

Different businesses will of course know what works best for them, but with potential childcare and home-schooling issues to accommodate it would not be a huge surprise to see this kind of policy become more commonplace. Some people enjoy being early birds and get their best work done in the morning, others are night owls and are more productive after the children are in bed. The initial lockdown largely proved that employees could be trusted to work on their own initiative and produce results no matter where they were located or at what time of day. A permanent move towards remote working will obviously have repercussions for how commercial buildings are operated. Whatever the outcome, building controls will have a major role to play.