It’s Remote Working, But Not As We Know It | Unit4

It’s Remote Working, But Not As We Know It

Originally published on LinkedIn

For those of us who were office based pre-COVID, initially remote working could have been seen as a bit of light relief from commuting to and from the office, being stuck in traffic or experiencing train delays, struggling with the school run or even getting a quick session in at the gym before the first meeting of the day.

Indeed, for many years remote working has been a hot topic, with some major corporations exploring the concept early, where others have been uncomfortable with it, raising concerns around trust, control and productivity. Now with the pandemic forcing organizations to adopt remote working on a global scale, there is more evidence than ever that those concerns aren’t substantial, with some organizations in fact reporting an increase in productivity due to the focus time away from the crowded office. For many of us, this move to remote working gave us the opportunity to pick the kids up from school, create a better balance between our work and home lives and even gave us a change of scenery which can contribute towards improved mental health.

However, as we moved deeper into lockdown remote working started to become something different. Many of us were confined to one room in the house as children were sent home for schooling, or where sharing space with people we live with made it difficult to concentrate. The reality of remote working in the last 12 months has become a routine of working from dining tables and bedrooms, juggling home schooling and full days of video meetings at the same time, with little respite other than perhaps a visit to the shops or a short workout. There have been no visits from friends who previously may have popped by for a cup of tea, or lunch meetings. No opportunity to work from a coffee shop or somewhere else to break up the week.

It has given those who are new to remote working a completely false view of what it’s really all about.

Previously referred to as ‘working from home’ or ‘teleworking’, the terminology has shifted to move with the times and it no longer means we have to sit at home in the same room staring at a screen all day. As lockdown measures relax around the world, we can start to get back into those routines that give us a better work/life balance, and with the use of better technology, laptops, mobile phones and faster apps giving us more flexibility to move around as the more social side of remote working starts to return. 

However, one thing the lockdowns have taught us is that we need a good mix between office and remote working. Yes, working away from the office can make us more productive with less travel and more time to focus, but what about getting creative with your team, bouncing ideas off each other, and chance conversations?  There is a fine balance.

Unit4 is in business for people. That means we put people first in everything we do. Like most organizations we have focused over the past year on the wellbeing of our employees, ensuring a good work/life balance, doing what we can to improve mental and physical health.

Pre-pandemic, some companies were set up to work in the office with remote working as an option, but now the inverse is true and it’s a subject that has everyone talking, with questions being raised:

  • What does that mean for resource planning?
  • How do we work and communicate effectively?
  • Will productivity be up, down or the same?
  • How do business leaders see this affecting the future?

We think the only way forward is the hybrid-approach, and we are leading the way!

People need the flexibility to choose when and how they work, so that they can be more successful than ever. We all need quiet time to focus, but also the society of others where we can be creative and collaborative. That’s why in early 2020 as we went into lockdown we introduced our new flexible approach to work, Flex4U, where we allow our people to choose when they need to be in the office, and when they need to work remotely nurturing this concept of working from where is most comfortable. We also embarked on a journey to totally redesign the concept of our workspaces, tearing up the script and starting from scratch. Our offices will become experience centres focusing on a much higher ratio of meeting and collaboration areas.  

We will provide a higher variety of spaces with our people having a choice between larger social areas, innovation corners and team tables as well as the more traditional meeting and event spaces, improving the customer and employee experience. Add this to the flexibility that remote working brings, and we are truly forward thinking our association with work so that our people can achieve the best work of their lives.

At Unit4, work is something that we do, not somewhere that we go!

James O'Neill

Global Head of Workspace Experience at Unit4

James is an experienced leader of Real Estate & Workplace with a demonstrated history of working in the Financial, Media and Technology sectors. Skilled in Lease Negotiation, Facilities Management (FM), Construction Project/Program Management and Consultant Contract Negotiation. Delivering company values and culture through real estate.