2020 – a year that will be forever etched in the memories of everyone that lived through these times. The global COVID-19 pandemic has changed nearly every facet of how we live and interact with the outside world. It has also caused seismic shifts for most; in the way we work. A direct result of COVID-19 has seen a large majority of staff throughout the world working from home, many for the very first time. But just what impact has this had on our working days, expectations as consumers and our productivity?
Technology moving to the forefront of our working day
It’s inconceivable to think that such a giant shift in working could have happened 20 years ago – today’s worker now has a vast array of tools available to them to keep them connected with their colleagues – everything from Microsoft Team, Slack, Zoom and Skype. Team meetings that used to be held round a table are now been conducted on an app. Is it better though? Well the results are mixed. Whilst software like Zoom makes it easier to talk to your colleagues than ever before, it is not without challenges – Internet speed being the biggest of them all.
Watching Dave from Accounts give that great presentation in slow motion as their internet speed decreases to a crawl might be humorous the first time it happens but can get a little annoying the tenth time around.
To camera or not to camera on Zoom is also a topic of hot discussions for many workplaces around the world. Whilst my company seems to have found a natural camera on position with all our staff members whilst on Zoom, other workplaces have struggled. There are numerous articles that point out the significance in turning your camera on or off during meetings, and how it can actively jeopardise your sales meetings if you don’t turn your camera on.
Hours vs Productivity
When I brought the topic of this blog up with my wife, the argument about how productive we are when working from home came up. She is a firm believer in the office environment, the 9-5 regime and being able to work in the same space as your colleagues. So, are you less productive when working from home?
A study from Aternity suggests that when working from home, workers on average spend more time at their computer, but are less productive. One test involved sending an email and tracking the open rate of an Excel Spreadsheet attachment over a one hour period, and whilst the majority of workers opened the spreadsheet in three seconds, some took over three minutes to open the Spreadsheet, whilst some didn’t even open it at all. A small test, which we can counter argue that homeworkers are prone to a lot less distractions that what they get in the office so are less likely to be interrupted and check emails which is always the go-to restart action.
However, to me, it is not a straightforward argument to suggest that people are less productive when working from home. In part, it’s about individuals. The office environment forces most people to work the same way, i.e. you must work in a set environment between a set number of hours. Working from home, allows more flexibility with hours, in turn allowing different working patterns and behaviours to come to the forefront. You might open your laptop at 8, rather than 9 and get through those medial tasks that you normally would not have been able to. A study from Airtasker shows that On average, remote employees worked 1.4 more days every month, or 16.8 more days every year, than those who worked in an office.
Should We Lower Our Expectations?
Considering that the lion share of the working world is now working from home, should we as consumers begin to lower our expectation of service levels when using/buying products. In industries that rely on logistics to deliver goods, some of the service they provide can be taken out of the company’s control, back in March for example, Amazon Prime packages were taking as long as a month to be delivered.
But what about software? Should we expect the customer service we receive to be worse? For us at PureClarity the answer is a definite no. I looked into our figures here at PureClarity and reviewed our average response time to customers, comparing the 1st January – 28th February and the 1st March – 30th April. So, did we respond to our customers quicker pre-lockdown?
Well, our pre-lockdown average response time to customers was 9 minutes and 19 seconds. Post lockdown and when our company was working from home, this was reduced to 3 minutes and 42 seconds. That means we reduced our response time to customers by 5 minutes 37 seconds whilst working from home! Not bad at all!
What Happens Next?
It seems that working from home is a trend that is here to stay. E-commerce giant Shopify recently announced that they are allowing all 5000 of their employees to work from home permanently. Google also announced that their staff will be allowed to work from home until at least July 2021. If giant enterprise operations can do this effectively then we all can with a little guidance on how to do this effectively.
Working from home has quickly become new norm, so get comfy, eliminate any distractions, establish your daily routine, follow your schedule, remember to take a break now and again and talk on a regular basis with your colleagues. Buckle yourself in, we are in this for the long haul!