Remote working is the new normal

In March I already wrote an article about what our life was going to look like after COVID-19.

One of the items was remote working and if the way of working will ever return to “normal”

Now a couple of months later, we see the first, major initiatives happening like the one introduced by Fujitsu. Fujitsu, a Japanese technology company with over 80.000 employees introduced the permanent remote working initiative.

Fujitsu Logo

As this is a new movement, they will monitor the productivity and quality closely so they can detect and pinpoint potential issues early on.

Not only productivity and quality will be monitored, but also employees will receive support for setting up their remote working environment as well as physical and mental health checks will be offered. Enhanced support will also be offered by adding more communication tools and devices by the end of 2020.

For employees that do need to come to the office, a new “hot-desking” system will be in place.

A spokesperson at Fujitsu, said: “Work Life Shift is not only a concept of ‘work’, but represents a comprehensive initiative to realise employee wellbeing by shifting pre-existing notions of life and work through digital innovation.

“This concept demonstrates Fujitsu’s leadership in driving the digital transformation of working culture and spaces in Japan, where many businesses have yet to fully embrace the potential of digital technologies to maximise efficiency and creativity in the workplace. As a pioneer in workplace reform, Fujitsu was one of the first large businesses in Japan to actively promote remote working practices, which it introduced company-wide in Japan in 2017.

“For employees in Japan, this latest initiative will mark the end of the conventional notion of commuting to and from fixed offices, while simultaneously granting them a higher degree of autonomy based on the principle of mutual trust.”

Next to the Fujitsu initiative, according to research done by PWC, if the Dutch people would work from home 1 day a week, that would save 3,9 billion Euro a year.

For employers, this would be almost 1,7 billion Euro due to for example lower rental costs for office spaces, less energy and less costs for catering. For employees, this is roughly 1,2 billion Euro. They will see increased costs for energy, but the reduction in travel costs still leads to substantial savings. The rest comes from combined and other savings like for example fewer traffic jams that have a substantial impact on the economy.

Another, very positive fact is that working from home for one day a week, will lead to a reduction of 606 kiloton CO-2 emission which is comparable to the footprint of about 40,000 people a year.

The research also mentions potential issues like for example the corporate culture. There will be less face-to-face communication which could have an effect on collaboration, creativity and innovation.

The effect on the employees health is also not clear enough. A weaker corporate culture could lead to an increase of sick leave. On the other hand, the increased flexibility in work hours could also have a positive effect.

A personal thought on the positives would be, that if there is going to be so much availability of office spaces, couldn’t we take advantage of this to solve another issue?

In the Netherlands, we have a huge shortage of either social (rental) as well as non-social (buy) houses and due to the increased environmental regulations, this gap is not likely to get any smaller soon.

By recycling and converting the current office spaces into apartments, we take advantage of a circular economy with minimal, environmental impact, solve the issue of vacant spaces, and solve an issue by creating thousands of extra houses.

All in all, there are quite some unknowns and there is much to learn still, but with all these positives, I personally feel the remote working initiative is unavoidable and that this is going to be the new normal.