Business commentators and academics have been talking for years about the distributed workplace but it took a global pandemic to make it happen. Little used technology which had been available for years became ubiquitous within weeks. Suddenly, millions of people were working from home.
This has raised a host of unforeseen issues. Much of the legislation governing homeworking is based on assumptions that no longer apply. Homeworking, once an exception, is now becoming the norm in some occupations. Governments across Europe are reviewing legislation to ensure it is more aligned to the way people work in the 2020s. Companies will need to do the same with their policies. The majority will not reflect new working patterns and will need to be thoroughly reviewed.
Potential problems may occur in a number of areas, for example:
- Performance – how far can (and should) companies monitor the activities of their workers when they are working remotely?
- Costs – once home is a workplace, who covers the costs of heating, lighting and kitting out offices?
- Welfare – who is responsible for ensuring that the working environment is safe?
- Tax – what does it mean for someone’s tax position when their home becomes their workplace?
- Cross border working – how do companies deal with people formally based in one country but mostly working from another?
Homeworking also shifts the psychological contract. Will people identify as strongly with their team members when they don’t see them as often? What does work-life balance mean when you are living at work?
Given all of this, what are the implications for how employers pay and incentivise people?
By the time we run this session we will have had almost a year in which much greater numbers of people have been working from home. Employers will therefore be starting to develop their long-term responses. In this session we will provide some initial commentary to start a discussion among members, enabling us to build a picture of how employment policies and management practices are evolving.