Post COVID-19 WFH is becoming mainstream, ushering in new opportunities for business, but ensuring a smooth transition needs planning.

Advances in technology and the transition to digitalisation has enabled more people to start working from home (WFH) or remotely – but the shift to a more flexible work-life didn’t really gain momentum till the COVID-19 pandemic. The lockdown was really the catalyst for a major shift in the numbers working from home (WFH). Post COVID-19, companies will have the experience of how WFH works for their business, and perhaps more importantly for their employees. Having had the chance to experience the benefits that flexible working patterns can bring – many employees are not going to want to give them up! WFH is here to stay and companies need to prepare for the fact that staff will be negotiating to have at least some WFH options. Perhaps one of the long-term effects of COVID-19 will be a much-needed rethink about the structure of our working lives – reducing stress, long hours in the office and the time commuting.

What to consider before setting up WFH?

Some jobs are better suited to WFH than others – such as sales and marketing, computer programming, research and writing etc.

Companies also need to consider what will the employee need in order to do their job from home and how well this can be provided. WFH may not suit everyone, employers need to assess if employees have the right skills and training to be effective homeworkers.

The issues employers need to consider for staff to be effective homeworkers

  • A range of issues need to be considered – from the suitability of the premises to the ability of the individual to be an effective WFH employee.
  • Check there is a suitable area at their home that can become a workspace creating a reasonable work environment
  • Assess the premises security – is extra security or insurance needed to cover office equipment in the home?
  • Access to a good broadband connection.
  • For access to office software and company’s network a secure VPN (virtual private network) will be needed.
  • Individuals will need good time management skills and the ability to work alone.
  • Is the employee trained in using the technology needed for WFH and can they manage IT and telecommunications equipment, dealing with minor issues independently without office back-up?
  • Do they understand the legal requirements for securing sensitive and personal data and how to secure this data within the home office environment?

Benefits of WFH

  • Many employees can use their time more effectively and become more productive – time is saved not having to commute.
  • More flexibility can lead to better staff retention – being able to fit work around family and the school-run is an important aspect for many parents.
  • The ability to recruit better candidates, as potential recruits may prefer the option of part WFH or flexitime.
  • Reduced levels of sick leave and stress.
  • Control over the office environment, e.g. noise, heat, ventilation and lighting – leading to reduction in running costs.
  • Can down-size office reducing costs.

Potential problems could include:

  • Increased initial training requirements and expenditure on setting up home offices.
  • Losing touch with employees, dilution of a ‘team’ ethos, and difficulty in arranging ad-hoc meetings.
  • Reduced loyalty to the company due to lack of interaction and isolation from the office.
  • Difficulty in ensuring the security of sensitive information.
  • Lack of clear communication can lead to confusion over goals and deadlines.
  • Over monitoring staff’s whereabouts and work can lead to conflict.

However, most of the problems can be effectively managed by businesses anticipating potential issues and developing good working solutions. Ensuring good communication links with staff and regular updates and face-to-face meetings will develop a ‘team’ spirit and being part of the company.

Like any new working practice introducing WFH will require an initial assessment of suitability and then a clear code of conduct as to how it will work in your company with employees being given clear guidelines about responsibilities and expectations. Starting off with allowing some staff to WFH part-time is a good idea to see how it works and then a formal review and evaluation after a given trial period. Employers need to remember that WFH is to offer flexibility to staff in terms of their output rather than attendance. So, you will not be able to maintain the same degree of control over an individual’s activities and how to monitor your staff at home is an important consideration.

Setting up the right technology for WFH

Sensitive or personal information may need to be saved on the company’s system to reduce the risk of data security breaches and limits the employer’s exposure to the provisions of the GDPR.

  • Create a VPN – enables employees who WFH to connect to your existing computer network online, from any computer with internet access.
  • VPN allows staff access to files and data on the company network.
  • A fast broadband is needed to enable smooth exchange of information.
  • To prevent unauthorised access to your systems, computers need protective passwords, firewalls and anti-virus software.
  • All data should be saved to your intranet where it can be backed up and protected.
  • Use of a cloud system – which one for your company?

A revolution in how we do business?

Our working lives were long due an overhaul. From long commutes to long hours in an office, it wasn’t a time or cost-effective way to do business. People who are working from anywhere (WFA) have an easier time sustaining a manageable work-life balance, feel less stressed and often become more productive employees. WFH is definitely the future and staff will want at least some WFH options when negotiating contracts so businesses need to get ahead of the curve.

Businesses need to be ahead of the curve in offering WFH options, as demand from the work-force will grow; crucial to retaining and attracting the best candidates.

Employees have wanted the flexibility of working from home (WFH) for a while, but despite the growth in technologies that can support it, it hadn’t really materialised. However, no one could have anticipated that the real driver for change would come in the form of a pandemic, but the COVID-19 outbreak forced businesses to adapt and invest in remote working for their staff – some even called it the ‘world’s biggest work from home experiment’. The result has been a seismic shift in working practices. Post COVID-19 it looks increasingly likely employees will want to maintain the flexibility of WFH and may even question why they need to be in the office at all. Having trialled WFH during the lockdown, managers will also be supportive of staff requests for greater flexibility in the future. WFH is here to stay and businesses need to be ahead of the curve and adapt. This is a long-overdue opportunity to radically rethink the way we work and live, allowing for a better work-life balance, a less stressed workforce and less time wasted commuting.

But there are benefits for companies too in allowing flexibility and WFH options. It can lead to greater productivity, allow a reduction in office space and running costs (surveys show many employees would be willing to take a pay cut in exchange for the option to WFH at least some of the time), staff are happier and less stressed and this can lead to better staff retention.

Demand for WFH will grow and employers need to be ready for potential candidates to want to negotiate WFH options into their contracts. Companies are going to have to adapt in order to attract the best candidates. Those who have already invested in infrastructure to enable WFH during lockdown, may now prefer to see this as a long-term investment in the future and hence be more agreeable to continue WFH practices. In doing so they have a head start on adapting their work strategies – other companies will now need to follow suit and catch up.


According to a study conducted by, a UK based online magazine, 77% of employees agreed to go the extra mile and responded to work more, in response to the fact that their employers

Harvard Business review reported that employees in the US when asked to work remotely agreed to choose 8% less pay and opt for ‘Work From Anywhere’ (WFA), as compared to working from the office.

COVID-19 is accelerating the digitisation of the future and this is both an opportunity and a challenge to businesses. There are a number of issues that need to be considered for a successful transition to WFH. For example, are staff adequately trained to use the platforms independently, deal with minor technical issues, what company software do staff need to access, and data-protection issues. Also, as an employer, how do you assess that staff stay connected and complete work, without looking like ‘big brother’ is watching you!

Benefits of WFH /WFA

Employer’s Perspective

  • Reduces unscheduled absences
  • Increased staff retention
  • Increases productivity
  • Saves operational costs
  • Reduces the need to over staff and offers scalability

Employee’s Perspective

  • Improved job satisfaction
  • Increased flexibility and better work-life balance
  • Increased employee empowerment and collaboration
  • Reduced time commuting to work

The Future of the office

In reality, WFH was always there – employees, employers, clients were all connected via Smartphones, 4G and Wifi – replying to emails and taking Skype/Zoom calls. The pandemic was the catalysts that shifted the percentage share of working from office vs WFH; now having tried it companies will want to review how well it worked for them and move in the direction of more flexibility in the workplace. The traditional 9 to 5, five days a week in the office is probably on the way out.


During the pandemic Barclays had 70,000 staff working from home. A big city office “may be a thing of the past 

Offices will still be needed as a central hub for teams to meet and for important interactions, such as client meetings. Plus, businesses will always need a central place to house their main infrastructure; files, data and supplies/stock etc. So, office culture is not over yet, working in isolation is not for everyone and staff will need some office time to collaborate with colleagues and complete projects. But increased access to WFH might mean less people in at any given time allowing some companies to downsize their office space and reduce running costs.

The Future of Work

Digitization has transformed how we do business, but the pandemic was the catalyst that shifted our mindset to actually implement the flexibility it offered. Together they have highlighted that the work is more important than the actual place of work. It took a while for the flexibility digitalisation offered to filter through to businesses, but WFA is the new norm and is going to shape the future of business globally.

Being part of the digital world allows employers to tap into talent globally as workers are no longer location dependent. Companies now regard this as a major advantage in keeping costs down and accessing a larger resource pool. If a well-structured WFH system is developed the new norm could help everyone grow together – less stressed, more time for family and friends, and perhaps even more eco-friendly as we reduce travel and office costs.