One huge benefit has been the way in which so many organisations have adapted to allow their workers to work remotely. We have seen that, thanks to email, cloud and video conference technology it is easy to work together constructively even when not physically in the same place. However it works because COVID-19 has been such a great equaliser. Because everyone is working remotely, then there is no penalty for not being in the room: there are no ‚’corridor conversations‚’ missed just before or just after the meeting; the technical issues are the same experienced by everyone. However, once it is possible to return to the physical office, there will once again start to be advantages for the physically present employee; in a meeting of three people where two are in the same room and the third is joining by video, it is hard for the remote person to build the same rapport; to be able to interject as naturally in the conversation; to read the room.
As a consequence, the norm will revert to being physically present. Whilst being able to be together again will be wonderful – it seems a shame to me that we might lose this new found freedom to work flexibly. Whilst this benefits so many of us, it is also a rare opportunity to level the playing field for those who face additional obstacles – eg long commutes in to city centres; childcare and caring responsibilities; physical disabilities. Even where employees are ‚’allowed‚’ to work remotely, how can we create the conditions such that remote working is not a disadvantage?