While New Zealand has been put into its second nationwide level 4 lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, more people than ever are currently working from home. While some find working from home difficult, many people are thriving and getting more done than ever. Can we expect the numbers of people working from home to stay high once restrictions ease up? Will work from home jobs in NZ become the new normal, or will we all be sent back to the office?
Last Year’s Lockdown
While it’s too soon to have much data from this year’s level 4 lockdown, during last year’s, work from home jobs in NZ became the norm. Around 40% of people did some work while they were at home while level 3 and 4 restrictions were in place.
In June 2020, 48% of the people working from home did not usually do so. This signalled a significant rise in the numbers of people with positions that enabled them to complete their work at home.
Leaders can often be stuck in old fashioned thought patterns that suggest that if you can’t see your employees working, they are not working. Instead, companies were forced to adapt, and many were pleasantly surprised to discover that their employees were just as productive while working from home, if not even more so.
Following that period, the estimated percentage of those able to work from home increased from 29% to 36%. This certainly shows promise for those hoping to work remotely on a more permanent basis.
Industries Where More People Can Work from Home
Of course, not all kiwis are able to do their jobs from home. This ability is highly dependent on your occupation. Most essential workers, for example, are unable to do this as they are usually in customer-facing positions, such as doctors, supermarket workers, and pharmacy assistants.
Other industries were largely put on pause as restrictions were in place, such as gas, water, and electricity services or construction.
In last year’s lockdown, the industries where the largest percentages of people worked from home were:
- Finance – 71%
- IT and telecommunication – 66%
- Professional, technical, scientific, support and administrative services – 59%
- Real estate, hiring, and rental services – 58%
These industries could be the ideal ones for those hoping to find more permanent work from home jobs in NZ. If you’re loving the remote work environment, you may consider searching for a job in one of the above areas.
The Case for Working from Home
There are plenty of reasons that it could be a good idea to permanently allow your employees to work from home once restrictions are lifted. This can reduce their stress levels as they gain a better work-life balance. Less commuting time and a more flexible work environment can cause less stress, resulting in happier and more productive employees.
Another benefit both for businesses and staff is cost saving. Companies can save on overheads such as rent and equipment. Meanwhile, employees are also saving money as they don’t need to pay for fuel to get to work.
Working from home (once the kids are back at school) can also mean a quieter workspace, fewer interruptions, and less time spent in meetings. The combination of these factors can lead to allowing staff more time to focus on their work without distraction, resulting in increased productivity. This benefits both employers and staff, as people are often happier when they are getting more work done, and this can also improve the business’s bottom line.
Is Remote Work the New Normal?
Businesses don’t want to keep having to bounce back from the continually changing alert levels that are likely to stick around for some time to come. Rather than having a reactive approach to the pandemic, companies can benefit from allowing their employees to permanently work from home more often. This means that if the country does experience another outbreak, it’s easier to respond as everyone is already set up to work remotely.
For companies where it’s possible to allow staff to do their jobs from home, we can expect to see an increase in acceptance of remote working. However, there will always be some companies who continue to think in the old school manner that people will slack off if working from home. So, an increase in remote work is not for everyone.
Organisations that take advantage of remote working can reap the benefits, and so will their staff. Let’s hope that many businesses are smart enough to continue allowing their employees to work remotely even as we are allowed back into the office.