Scots asked to work from home: could the rest of the UK join them?

Work from home during Coronavirus pandemic quarantine isolation. Working remotely home concept. Comfortable working place in home office with laptop on the table with Headphones, lemonade and office stuff. Work from Home on the laptop screen

Tech innovator PixelMax has warned that business, industry and commerce need to adopt a more resilient approach to the workplace ideology and culture in order to future-proof business operations and help prevent a further return of the crippling effects of the pandemic lockdowns of 2020.

The warning comes as the First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon yesterday urged Scots employers to advise their employees who can to work from home where possible until January to help reduce the rate of infection and transmission of the Omicron variant. The move comes after the UK Government announced its advice for  mandatory face masks to be worn in public places following the increase in infection rates and the discovery of the new Omicron variant. Health Minister Sajid Javid was also questioned about the possibility of further restrictive measures being announced before Christmas, including a potential advisory for the public to work from home where possible. The general consensus is that Covid-19 will remain with us indefinitely for some time to come and we will have to tackle the virus and its variants each year, much like we do the winter flu, with people getting vaccinated and having boosters. 

The discovery of evolving strains such as Omicron, despite vaccination programmes and boosters, has demonstrated how vulnerable the UK and Europe  is to a constant threat of new strains of the virus, infection and transmission. PixelMax believes that  businesses need to factor this into their resilience planning and future proofing in order to maintain business operations, functionality and ensure consistency and productivity across their workplaces and workforces.

In order for the UK to maintain as “near-normal” Christmas as possible, there is the very real possibility that businesses could be advised by the UK Government in the coming days and weeks to instruct their workforces to reduce time in the office and work from home where possible  in the run-up to Christmas, to help stem the flow and transmission of the new Omicron variant. 

Business, commerce and industry needs to be preparing now and planning ahead to ensure there is not a repeat of the mistakes from previous lockdowns. Zoom fatigue, disconnected teams, no back up plans for employee wellbeing and a lack of engagement, all impacted on mental health and productivity. It demonstrated a huge vulnerability in many businesses, that were clearly not equipped or resilient in their planning. 

According to Organisational Psychologist  Sarah Clarke (MBPsS) of the Occupational Mind Group: “Companies really focussed on the office environment to make it somewhere people enjoyed working and were productive and engaged. Tech companies had some amazing environments- ball pools, slides, table tennis, etc. But this only worked pre pandemic. Now more than 80% want to work in a hybrid way. So how do we manage wellness in a post pandemic world? People are suffering from Zoom and Teams fatigue. We need to rethink the technology we use and the solutions we use. How do we improve our working lives with the tech we have out there? I have three sons who would live in Fortnite if they could, why can’t we have that in the business world? A platform where people want to exist and engage ?”

PixelMax, the award-winning 3D tech innovation company, recently outlined its vision for the future of the workplace in a thought leadership blueprint. PixelMax believes that in order for British businesses to thrive and embrace such major events and pandemics – and the digital revolution – they need to future-proof their workplace environments. They need to create a workplace that is a hybrid, embracing all of the positive elements of going into the physical workplace, along with the ability to be part of – and engaged within – the virtual workplace.

Rob Hilton, CEO of PixelMax, said: “The world has rapidly changed in the last 12 months. We have had to deal with the pandemic and multiple lockdowns, as well as issues like Brexit and a new way of working with remote video calls. This has dramatically impacted on the workplace and employee culture in terms of engagement, productivity, well-being and work-life balance. In order for companies to embrace a new hybrid work culture and technology, this experience needs to be immersive within a virtual workplace. Right now, we have a huge skills and talent shortage; talent acquisition and retention very much dominate corporate culture. Nobody wants to return to a monotonous culture of working remotely on Zoom or Teams all day. The experience needs to be enriching and engaging, which in turn boosts productivity, engagement and output. It also has to have a positive impact on employee well-being and mental health,”  

The shift changes in the workplace environment also showed how vulnerable businesses and global economies were to a pandemic. Lockdowns had huge impacts on companies, management of employees, productivity and output. Supply chains, logistics and fulfilment were all impacted. 2020 showed our vulnerability to a physical virus and the impact of a post-Brexit economy. What this did do, however, was open our eyes to the benefits of remote working and greater work-life balance. It meant not spending two hours commuting every day, saving hundreds of pounds in car parking, fuel and travel costs, all of which contribute on a daily basis to global warming and climate change.  At the same time, air quality in the majority of cities drastically improved during the lockdown period and air pollution was at record-low levels in 2020.   

Earlier this month, PixelMax unveiled the future of the virtual workplace metaverse in a ground-breaking thought leadership blueprint that looked at how the workplace and office of the future will evolve. Entitled The Virtual Workplace – Enter The Metaverse, https://pixelmax.com/virtual-workplace/metaverse-thought-leadership the thought leadership document outlines its vision for the virtual workplace, including how the office and work culture of the future will adapt to change. 

At the core of its thinking is how businesses and economies are future proofed to deal with changing dynamics of workforces, consumer demand and global events, such as future pandemics. It goes further to outline the importance of how this will impact employee well-being, mental health and work-life balance – all of which play crucial roles in shaping the virtual workplace we work in, as well as how we hire and retain the best employee talent.  PixelMax defines the virtual workplace as “a virtual space that enables employees and wider communities to effectively communicate, collaborate and co-create regardless of location”.

Rob Hilton added: “The virtual workplace will also have an impact on global warming and climate change. Increasingly, companies and employees are being asked to consider their own carbon footprint reduction. Reducing commuting and business travel generally would lead to a decrease in air pollution for the environment and credits towards carbon reduction programmes. The average employee can save around £1,234 per annum on fuel costs and around £500 per annum on parking and congestion charges, as well as air pollution taxes. The virtual workplace means the average person will also save on average around two hours per day commuting, leading to increased productivity.

“PixelMax is not advocating such a radical change that the ‘in-person’ real-world of the office or workplace will cease to exist; quite the contrary, as we all need human physical interaction. In the gaming world, this has been achieved. It is the immersing and embracing of technology and the real world to create the perfect hybrid enterprise metaverse for the office or workplace of the future that creates the perfect balance.”

The Virtual Workplace – Enter The Metaverse

The PixelMax-authored thought leadership piece is available to the public to view and download here

https://pixelmax.com/virtual-workplace/the-virtual-workplace-enter-the-metaverse

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