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Is work from home here to stay?

The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted companies to seriously look into digital solutions to continue their business activities. While many companies closed during the lockdown, some found ways to continue operations despite health and safety restrictions.

A survey conducted in July this year showed 80% of companies implemented work from home (WFH) arrangements during the lockdown. This was needed to continue their operations. This also induced companies to drive their digital transformation.

Of the companies surveyed, 63% had ongoing digital transformation projects, even before the lockdown. Half of the remainder started to implement their digital strategies. The initiatives included automation, data analytics, enterprise software, workforce mobility, digital marketing, e-commerce, and infrastructure on the cloud.

Why Cloud Computing

In an article “Why cloud is more vital than ever,” Sooraj Shah writes: “Cloud computing has enabled companies to continue operating seamlessly throughout an unprecedented crisis that could have easily brought business processes and productivity to a halt.” Cloud computing facilitates home working, providing tools and solutions that enable companies to be more agile in responding to the demanding requirements of customers.

The article mentions that cloud solutions such as NetSuite’s cloud enterprise resource planning product enable customers to cope with unprecedented demand. Scaling up is easy and can accommodate more volume as needed.

There’s no need for sizable hardware to expand digital operations while delivering a secure environment for the data that is readily available all the time. It provides the right tools to guide the company with timely and precise decisions.

The future of WFH

As the government opens business activities to jump-start the economy, mobility is still limited. Offices restrict the physical number of employees to conform with social distancing rules. Companies will continue WFH arrangements.

On September 14, ABS-CBN News’ Bruce Rodriguez reported that most CEOs are willing to keep the current WFH or alternative work arrangements for their organizations due to cost savings. The survey of 161 CEOs was conducted by the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) and PwC Philippines. 73 percent of respondents see their organizations continuing WFH even after the pandemic. The savings apply to office utilities, supplies, staff activities, conferences, transportation, and representation expenses, the report said.

However, CFOs across organizations have a rough balancing act to see the benefits and advantages of long term WFH arrangements. In her article, “Running the Numbers: Work >From Home, Back to the Office or Hybrid?” posted June 22, 2020, Janet Schijns says that CFOs need to calculate the per-employee cost of various work models.

“The reality is, COVID-19 has left us all with only imperfect choices. But CFOs of retail, manufacturing, healthcare, and hospitality companies have much narrower parameters than finance leads in traditional office-based firms, who have some thinking to do.

On the extremes, if you say employees will work only from home long term, you need to either pay for, or demand employees buy, hardware, software, services, and connectivity that meet minimum quality expectations,” she says.