The future of working practices: What we have learned during the pandemic

Here in the UK we have now marked the year anniversary since the pandemic began. We have had to make adjustments to almost everything in our lives, for example, our working practices, the way we distance ourselves from others, homeschooling, reduction in travel, and limits on seeing our loved ones. But with the lockdown (hopefully) coming to an end soon and the easing of restrictions, the future of working practices are in question. Will companies choose to plan a working from home rota or send their employees back to the office full time? In this article we will be investigating what we have learned during the pandemic and how this will change our future working environments and practices.

Firstly, who knows if working from home is now the long-term future? Yet, some companies have even sold their office spaces to make the permanent move to remote working. The most popular decision – now we are easing back into normality – is a mixture of working from home and the office. 

Here at Porrima we have been long standing advocates of remote working and working from home. Even before the onset of the pandemic we saw the benefits of remote working for our staff, particularly with regards to a better work-life balance. Daniel Shapiro, CEO of Porrima, says “Porrima always aims to be at the forefront of industry practices, whether it be launching Proposal Manager, the first proposal management software application for the IT and telecoms industry, or being the first company in the industry to accept cryptocurrency payments. That’s why we were early adopters of working from home a long time ago. Obviously since the pandemic this way of working has become the norm and we will continue to offer flexible working practices for our employees, as we have noticed happier staff and no drop in productivity.”

This can be a great reintroduction to the working environment as some people may not feel comfortable or ready to go back to work full time. However, there has been a change in attitude from enjoying working from home early in the pandemic, as it has been such a difference from what we have always known, to now wanting to return to the office. This could be due to missing the social interaction and being around others or it could purely be to escape homeschooling and have a return to separate home and work environments. Additionally, people may have become accustomed to working from home and prefer to be in their own environment because they feel more productive. 

Whether people now want to continue working from home or whether they want to get back to the office, one thing that has become noticeable as lockdown has persisted is an indifference to online meetings. What started off as a novelty for many has now become a chore. This is known as ‘Zoom fatigue’: the constant stream of online meetings, screen freezes, muted microphones, weird echoes, a dozen heads staring at you and judging your attire and background. Online meetings come in multiple forms and on multiple platforms: one-on-one meetings and large huddles where everyone sits with their camera and microphone off. And it’s not just work; you have to do it all over again with friends and family (who might not be as tech savvy as your colleagues). Since the

Covid-19 pandemic hit, we are on video calls more than ever before and many are finding it exhausting, hence the Zoom ‘fatigue’. If you would like to read more about Zoom and the effects it has had, there have been several in-depth reports and research into this click here to read more.

In addition to remote working, there has had to have been a reduction in business travel. Many used to travel far and wide across the globe for business meetings and opportunities daily, but due to the pandemic we have had to resort to virtual meetings. Has this highlighted the unnecessary need for business travel? Will in-person meetings be a thing of the past? Although we may be tired of Zoom meetings, the pandemic has emphasised one thing: the need for new forms of communication and technology that can change the way we work. Many companies who were previously ‘paper-based’ have now digitally adapted and ensured that their workers can work remotely to the fullest. For example, simply introducing Google Chat for ease of communication, or ensuring employees can work on an external network while at home through a third-party application, so their home Wi-Fi is not an issue.

Naturally the telecoms and IT industries have adapted to the new landscape since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020. Those organisations which had been reluctant to introduce remote working practices had their hand forced with the introduction of the government’s stay at home directive. Like other industries, virtual meetings and working from home are now standard in the IT and telecoms sectors too.

Mobile phone networks, too, have reflected on the challenges posed by lockdown. Despite the fall in revenue from roaming charges as fewer of us have been able to travel abroad over the past year, some networks have offered extra data free of charge on their tariffs to counter the increased demand from users working from home. In fact, free data for educational purposes has been offered to many children and young people so as to remove a potential barrier to effective home learning.

However, some concerns remain as the working landscape continues to evolve. For example, some call centre workers have been advised that their employers will seek to install specialist software and webcams to monitor employees’ working behaviour when working from home. There are many questions of surveillance and trust which arise from the changes to working practices and it will be interesting to see how UK employment law is amended to reflect such significant changes.

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We have designed, developed and implemented intelligent and sophisticated sales software solutions for telecoms and IT partners of different sizes, from small one-man bands to large businesses in partnership with the UK mobile networks. Our objective here at Porrima is to use our in-depth industry knowledge and technical programming experience to offer a unique product portfolio that will work for you.

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