What do businesses need to bear in mind as working from home becomes more commonplace, especially in light of the increase in energy costs?

In the past, the phrase ‘working from home’ may have been met with scepticism by some, with an image of employees lazily checking emails while binge-watching box sets. 

However, the world has changed beyond recognition in the past few years as working from home has become the ‘new norm’ for many. 

People were forced during lockdown to set up home offices, and employers were kitting them out with IT. Now that these investments have been made, and more importantly, it has been proven that in a lot of cases, the workforce can work from home for prolonged periods efficiently and productively thanks to reliable technology, it is difficult to imagine working life as it was ever being the same again.

If there is one thing that can be certain in these ‘uncertain times’ it’s that working from home has demonstrated in some cases its value in the landscape of modern working. Not just for the individual, saving on commuting costs and a better work-life balance, but for employers too, as many are shedding office space or downsizing considerably and saving on rent, rates, and utility bills.

In some businesses, working from home (or ‘agile’ working, as it is now known) has long been the norm, and the practice has been fully embraced from the boardroom down. For these early adopters, the necessary compliance infrastructure is now tried and tested. For others, agile working is a more recent development, forcibly launched en masse due to the swiftness of the coronavirus pandemic.

Now that the dust has settled, some businesses are seeing the value of agile/homeworking and thinking about where it might slot into the working practices of the future. There are a lot of considerations for employers to be aware of: health and safety risk assessments, mental health issues from working alone, employees taking their breaks, and how can you ensure that data protection compliance standards are maintained irrespective of location? When considering how to develop future agile working practices to maximise efficiency and employee satisfaction, there are some key issues that must be borne in mind, and now we have the cost-of-living crisis.

With people working from home, they will most likely have to have their heating on when they would normally be out at work. Are we about to see demands from home workers asking their employers to pay for or contribute to this additional cost? After all, if companies are saving on renting office space, is this an unreasonable request? It may be something that employers should be thinking about and factoring into their budgets. We will have to see, but as we move towards winter, this will indeed be a very interesting topic!