Over the past month, most companies in Hungary made an immediate transition to ‘home office’. Cushman & Wakefield embarked upon a study to understand their experiences.
Cushman and Wakefield approached 100 companies based in Hungary. Whilst their responders were overwhelmingly privately-owned international companies, domestic and state-owned companies were also represented – ensuring this was a balanced and representative sample.
C&W asked respondents a variety of questions requesting they quantify each question on a scale of 1 to 5. Respondents rated the smoothness of the transition with an average score of 4.4 out of 5.0. Most companies had no problem in swiftly adapting to working from home. In cases when companies reported challenges, this was mainly due to infrastructural issues such as slow home internet connection or an inadequate number of laptops immediately available to employees. Whereas the new set-up and testing of the IT networks generally took some extra time, these were rather considered to be ‘tasks’ than real problems. Yet, in case of businesses with on-site workflow, full home office cannot be ordered. C&W also highlighted that e-signature processes are rare and financial administration still require personal interaction.
In terms of the ongoing effectiveness of home office, the results are a little less positive but still very good with an average of 4.1 of 5.0. By this C&W concluded that most respondents have been able to work efficiently from home, although these are still the early days.
The biggest challenge facing most companies following transition is the lack of personal contact and meetings (both internal and client), which negatively impact on engagement and collaboration. Technological infrastructure was the second major issue faced. The challenge of also having family and children at home was listed as another issue – although perhaps this is not a typical environment to properly judge this impact.
Based on the survey C&W concludes that the companies in the survey have tackled the challenge of transforming to ‘home office’ well, largely because the infrastructure of their working environment was easily transportable. This has depended upon the preparedness of the employer to deliver the technical solution such as providing laptops, appropriate bandwidth etc, as well as the suitability of the home environment. Issues occurred with the transition where working infrastructure could not be swiftly arranged into the ‘home office’ environment.
So, is it possible that all workflows are taken out of the office? For paper-based processes like contracts, orders and approvals, this is often impractical. Home working also relies upon the capacity of an IT system to handle remote work and connections were generally not set up to perform to this level. Most importantly, face to face meetings are missing from the workflow, internal and with clients. Indeed, one respondent was concerned that ‘distancing from clients and colleagues’ will be a bigger issue on the longer term. Finally, human beings are social animals – and so, once the “home office” novelty has worn off, do the members of a team really want to stay at home in the medium term, or ultimately would they prefer to fully interact with their colleagues on a daily basis – and is this interaction ultimately more efficient for the firm at large?
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