Is WFH (Working from Holiday) the New Normal?Owen Mitchell
Over the past week the Innesco team has been discussing our commutes into the office, specifically the gradual increase in commuters occupying various modes of public transport across London. This, combined with the distinct shortage of bicycle racks and ever-growing queues for the office coffee machines, has led us to the same conclusion – people are returning to their places of work.
As industry experts predicted some time ago, since Freedom Day even the hardest-hit sectors of the industry have defied expectations by coming out of hibernation and returning to their offices as opposed to treating WFH – Working from Home – as the norm. However, as Property Week’s Liz Hamson highlighted in her leader piece a couple of weeks ago, there is now a new WFH.
For most workers, soaking up the sun and exploring new cultures abroad is something that’s usually reserved for a few precious weeks of annual leave each year, with August traditionally a quieter month as a result. However, ‘Working From Holiday’ (the new WFH) has triggered a rethink of that theory.
Attitudes towards working have become more flexible since the pandemic, with more and more aspects of our working lives becoming digitised. This has led to the new WFH concept being embraced across sectors. And why not? We are all well-practiced in the art of remote working and the current level of industry activity is unprecedented for this time of year. Swapping grey skies and jumpers for tropical blues and daily temperatures reaching 30°C is certainly appealing if employees can be as productive as in the office or at home.
Just last month, one of our clients completed a major deal to acquire a prominent shopping centre, with one of the company’s Directors, who was playing a key role in finalising the deal, working remotely from abroad. Yet, without prior knowledge, we wouldn’t have been any the wiser – the transaction process was as smooth as could be expected.
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought both the possibilities and benefits associated with remote working into sharper focus and has encouraged many employees to request arrangements that they might not have thought possible little more than a year ago. Of course, for some industries like hospitality, the new WFH concept is a non-starter, but for others it provides a real opportunity to take flight and enjoy some well-earned summer sun as the travel industry opens back up.
There is no doubt that the second half of the year will continue in the same vein as the first, with activity in every sector continuing to increase with each passing day. Whether Working From Holiday will become the new norm after this initial (seemingly successful) test run remains to be seen. As with most new phenomena that have come to the forefront of business discourse in the last 18 months, time will tell.