The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many employers in the private sector and self-employed workers to make the decision of whether or not their employees should be working from home. During the epidemic, home office became a crucial tool not only for protecting workers from infection, but also for maintaining the operation of companies in a full or limited capacity.
Because the lives and health of employees, as well as the computer security of companies are at stake, more and more businesses and authorities have made it possible to work from home as the constraints upon professional and social life continue to grow.
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However, many companies and governments were not prepared for this model of remote operation due to the lack of flexibility of their technical, material, and personnel capabilities.
In effect, the coronavirus has spurred the most extensive home office experiment in history, providing valuable knowledge to managers, sociologists, psychologists, urban planners, and human resources alike. Many of these specialists are already discussing home office’s groundbreaking effects, noting the competitive advantage of companies whose affairs can be smoothly transferred to remote operations.
Organizations with an existing technological, personnel, and procedural system for working from home have benefited greatly from such foundations when adapting to the ongoing extraordinary circumstances.
Home Office Deepens Inequalities
According to a study by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), within the countries included in the study, young people with precarious employment and low income make up the largest proportion of the roughly 100,000,000 people who have started working from home1.
For many, prolonged home office will become the norm. However, it is very likely that the share of those who work from home is stabilizing at a higher level than it was before the pandemic, as noted by the French daily Le Monde2.
When applying for a job, many adepts are now inquiring about the possibility to work from home. Whereas home office used to be a privilege limited mainly to employers, many employees and self-employed workers are now seeking this option as it allows them to keep their jobs despite regular lockdowns and other restrictions to contain the coronavirus.
Companies now risk losing their attractiveness if they are unable or unwilling to allow home office, as more and more prospective employees are moving away from physical work, which would increase their vulnerability to the virus.
1 Brussevich, M., E. Dabla-Norris, and S. Khalid (2020) “Teleworking Is Not Working for the Poor, the Young, and the Women”, [in]: IMF Blog. Available [online]: https://blogs.imf.org/2020/07/07/teleworking-is-not-working-for-the-poor-the-young-and-the-women/