We are all pretty bored with hearing about the Covid-19 statistics, infection forecast, predictions, analyses for every European country, for Europe, for the entire world. However, it is unavoidable to notice that during 2 years of pandemic our lives and lifestyles as well as working habits have been deeply affected. In particular, office work has been totally redesigned as people were forced to work from home for weeks/months and meetings were carried out through one of the (now) popular platforms such MS Teams, Zoom, GoToMeeting, WebEx, whilst conferences, workshops, seminars – carried out on these platforms too – lost the so much expected networking breaks to either know new people or refresh older acquaintances.
Apart from the psychological effects of working every day from home where, in some cases, resulted more difficult when screaming children broke into a conference call, productivity of employees has been also an important issue.
Working from home may be good for a couple of days a week as we avoid commuting so we can save time and contribute to reduce CO2 emissions. But when this working style becomes mandatory and long-lasting, the beneficial effects of saving time and a potential increase of quality of life (no traffic jams, no queues on public transport) are rapidly cancelled. Staying 8 hours a day in front of a laptop, maybe in a small flat, perhaps with a noisy family, generates a strong negative impact on the employee’s productivity.
On the other hand, this working style may generate – in the long term – savings for companies that need fewer desks and less IT equipment, but at the same time they risk losing their company culture that requires so much effort to be built among their staff. The relationship between the employee and its boss may be affected too as one doubt can be easily clarified while in the office, whereas at home it becomes an issue as one has to formally book a timeslot on the manager’s diary to request a virtual meeting that may happen hours (or days) later.
The same applies to cross-fertilisation and brainstorming among employees that often during the coffee breaks can exchange information while discussing on several subjects.
However, among all these disruptions mentioned above, there is also good news : the office work can take the chance of this historic moment and renew itself. As a matter of fact, there are now companies experiencing a 4-day week where employees work from Monday to Thursday and can enjoy a free Friday for the same salary. They follow the 100-80-100 rule: 100% salary for 80% working week while ensuring 100% productivity.
Some years ago the European Commission asked companies to ensure a good work-life balance for their employees and for this reason suggested to stop paying unused annual leave to encourage using these days to rest employees’ body and mind.
The 100-80-100 rule seems to go in that direction and I hope that more companies will adopt it to improve the quality of life of every individual and their families.
EPN Consulting Founder & CEO