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The new normal – making remote working efficient & enjoyable

new normal

There are an array of contrasting and contradictory views and opinions concerning the COVID-19 pandemic. However, one thing that seems certain is that the microscopic virus may have catalysed a change in the way that millions of us work; permanently.

The new way of living or “the new normal,” as it has been coined by many, may be necessary for years to come to protect ourselves and the most vulnerable. That said, the new normal and a new relationship with work may exist simply because workers prefer it.


Is remote work the new normal?

At the start of 2020, there were not many CEOs or economists who would have believed that it was possible to work from home five days per week and be more productive than working from an office HQ.

If you could time travel back to January 2020 and ask people what working from home meant, they’d have probably quipped that it meant – not really working at all.

In the UK, lockdown began in March 2020, with the health and social care secretary, Matt Hancock, advising the House of Commons that all unnecessary social contact should stop. Across the pond in the United States, the first state to issue a “stay at home” order was California. In March 2020, all Californian residents were obliged to stay at home unless to go to an essential job or to acquire critical supplies such as food.

In an attempt to “flatten the curve” of COVID infection rates, remote working spiked. Eighteen months later, most employees who switched to a remote working model want to keep doing so for at least one day per week as part of the transition to the “new normal.” 

It seems likely that the new normal after COVID will be remote or hybrid working protocols, because that’s what knowledge workers want.


Is remote working more productive?

Remote work and “distributed teams” have been around for a while – depending on your definition. In a way, when the Roman Empire ruled a large percentage of the western world, much of the military workforce was distributed, populated many locations around Europe and far from the ‘headquarters’ of Rome.

If the Romans managed it, it stands to reason that with the help of the internet, the modern-day workforce should be able to remain productive and communicate effectively regardless of their physical location.

As the working from home novelty wears off, and we move into the second half of 2021, those working remotely still report being more productive than when they are office-based.

According to, 77% of remote workers report being more productive, and 99% of those working remotely at present wish to work remotely in some capacity in the future.

With Silicon Valley trendsetters such as Twitter and Facebook embracing the switch to remote work model and reporting higher productivity levels, many other businesses are set to follow. 

Companies based in Europe are also getting in on the remote-working act, with Stockholm based Spotify announcing a new “Work from Anywhere” policy. 

So is it just an increase in productivity that is fuelling the leap into a remote working future?


What are the benefits of working remotely?

Remote work has been on the increase, even before the pandemic. Many travel bloggers, for example, have created a niche of their own – “digital nomads.” With the ability to work from anywhere with an internet connection, bloggers and other workers who can get by with a laptop, an internet connection, and a cup of coffee or yerba mate have been funding worldwide adventures whilst travelling.

In the past, many travellers will have spent a year saving money to fund an around the world adventure. With the ability to work online and from anywhere, thanks to the internet, many travelling entrepreneurs now work online as they travel. Many others have relocated, often to Asia, to take advantage of “geo-arbitrage.” Being paid in US dollars or UK sterling goes a lot further when you live in the Philippines, for example, where the daily wage for an average local worker is reportedly between $6 and $10 US dollars.

International travel does not suit every worker, however, nor will it fly with every employer. Yet, remote working will undoubtedly remain a distinguishing factor of the “new normal” thanks to several factors.

According to London Business School

 Remote workers spent

– 12% less time in large meetings

– 9% more time interacting with customers/partners

– Tasks rated as “tiresome” dropped from 27% to 12%

The work-from-home option may also be important for morale, with one report from Morning Consult found that:

– US workers have mainly had positive experiences with remote work

– Three-quarters of workers surveyed want to continue remote work at least one day per week

Some surveys have even reported that employees will consider quitting their jobs if they don’t have some degree of flexibility regarding remote work once the pandemic is over.

On the other hand, over half of employees, in most surveys, have reported that they would like to work from the office at least some of the time.


Hybrid working – A happy medium?

A hybrid working model seems likely to be the new normal as we hopefully move out of the pandemic. In many ways, this could be a modification of the office setup that Steve Jobs brought to Pixar, with space and time allocated for solo work and an emphasis on areas for collaboration.

report from Ipsos MORI, published on their website at the end of August 2020, showed that most young people working remotely – 51%, found it challenging. As mentioned previously, young people with intern or entry-level positions may also miss out on learning from more experienced employees. In addition, as a result of working home alone, these workers may also struggle to grow their professional network.

With a hybrid working setup and a flexible approach to choosing how often an employee works from the office or home, employees could potentially decide to work in a way that makes them happiest and most productive.

Technology has been adapted to the desire to work remotely for some time, too, with robot co-workers and telepresence robots being a thing since 2015.



The home office

Employers have a duty of care regarding work environments that extends to employees who are working from home. For example, a chair that was previously used at home for the occasional bit of reading or banking-related tasks may not be suitable and could cause back pain when used each day extensively for work.

This example outlines one instance of how the benefits of remote working are not always equally distributed across the workforce. While some workers will have the luxury of a separate room or out-building such as a garage or summerhouse that can be used as an office, others are not so fortunate. An intern or apprentice, for example, may live at home with family or flatmates and could be forced to work from their cramped bedroom. 

In addition to the physical work environment, an intern or apprentice would also benefit from working alongside senior management, taking onboard tips and skills that have been acquired with years of experience. Some of the less tangible benefits of working from an office can not be directly quantified and therefore not be reported in the analyses that inform the pros and cons of remote working.

With remote work and the absence of a central working environment or office, you will often lose much of the peripheral network that would typically be established over time both in and outside of the company that employs you.

Countries worldwide are revising work legislation and advice ever since the pandemic hit their respective borders. These guidelines and laws could relate to an employee’s right to work away from the office and the employer’s responsibilities when it comes to home-based work environments. 

For example, who will be responsible for providing desks and home-office chairs and an employee’s mental and physical wellbeing?

Wherever you work, it is wise to ensure that you have a chair and desk that complement and encourage good posture. For more information, this article from has some good ideas and pointers when it comes to setting up an office.


What can we learn from Finland?

Finland is consistently rated as one of the happiest countries in the world. Despite being in relative darkness for half the year, Finnish people score high on life satisfaction surveys and wellbeing.

Finland leads the world in terms of flexible work – or at least it did do until the pandemic forced millions of workers and thousands of employers across the world to be more malleable in their approach.

The BBC reports that the country has a “deep-rooted culture of trust, equality, and pragmatism,” which may have allowed them to adopt a different approach to work. 

Back in the 90s Finnish employers were offering flexible hours and agile work arrangements. With the country regarded as a technology hub, agile work arrangements were necessary to recruit people with the required skills from throughout the country.

 For tech companies such as Nokia, Rovio, and Polar to recruit the country’s top talent, they had to look outside the industrialized hotspots.

With around a third of Finland’s workforce working from home irregularly before the pandemic, the key could be both in the culture of trust and the broadband. Finland has some of the world’s fastest internet connections, even in rural areas. This high-speed internet infrastructure has enabled the country to lead the way in tech and flexible working, allowing people in rural areas to stay connected with those in the city.

Finland even has a remote working law that allows employees to work from somewhere other than their office for at least half of the week. With this structure in place, the relatively small workforce and population of just over 5 million people developed the first internet browser, the earliest online chat software and the open-source operating system – Linux.


A rural renaissance?

With the option to work remotely declared a permanent arrangement at some companies such as Twitter, workers can relocate to more rural or exotic areas.

At the time of writing, the North American island of Barbados is offering a “12-month welcome stamp VISA” that allows people to work remotely in Barbados. In 2020, many US residents temporarily relocated to the island, working from Barbados while still paying income tax to the US.

Several legal practitioners have suggested a cautious or at least thoroughly researched approach to any relocation, however. For example, when employers receive requests from employees to work from a different country, depending on the nationality of the employee and the country from which they wish to work, there could be VISA issues regarding whether or not they are entitled to work that location. Benefits can also be voided when working abroad too, such as private medical insurance. 

There are many instances whereby there could be legal and financial implications of a permanent or temporary relocation, even within the same country. For example, according to this YouTube video from The Economist, Massachusetts is going through the courts to tax people who officially work within the state but are currently doing most or all of the work from home – outside of the state.

Whatever happens, it will be interesting to see if the housing market continues to boom in the previously, less desirable areas that may have been declared – too southern, too northern, too small, lacking in amenities or too isolated before the pandemic. Remote working has turned the housing market upside down thus far, with Brits and Americans seeking more affordable, more rural and less densely populated areas to work from.


Isolation & blurred lines

For many people, the shift to remote work has opened up the opportunity to spend more time with family. For parents, the additional free time offered by the lack of a commute to work could prove valuable in the short and long term regarding wellbeing and mental health. However, the social connections formed previously in the office may have been a critical foundation for an individual’s social network and human-to-human interaction.

Some people actually enjoy the commute to work, according to this article from Interestingly, the love or hate you will likely have for your commute to and from work correlates strongly with the form of transportation, whether or not you like your job and how much you get paid. While there is some evidence to suggest that long commutes make us miserable, less healthy, worse at our jobs and even more likely to get divorced, one benefit of a commute to work is how it separates working life from home life. 

When the boundary between home and the office is physical, the commute can help create a psychological barrier between any problems and stresses associated with work.

In the future, there could be some negotiation and deliberation over the privacy that remote workers have. While in Finland, much of the success of remote work is due to the culture of trust, in the US and the UK, workers may be monitored closely by employers. The concept of flexible working hours at this point could also throw a proverbial spanner in the works – between what hours would an employer have access to monitor what it is that you are doing?

While employers and governments work to sort out the ground rules, there is one low tech solution to the lack of a physical distance between work and home. Taking a ten-minute stroll at the end of the working day and then setting the intention to step into “home mode” upon re-entering the property could help to clear your mind and create a distinction between work and home.


Outsourcing & remote working

With remote work and distributed teams comes the option for employers to outsource many roles. Without the need for people to be physically present at a central location, in theory, this leaves the door open for employers to recruit talented individuals from anywhere in the world.

With startups drifting away from offices and only a small number of companies planning a return to “normal” working arrangements post-pandemic, one key role that could be outsourced is receptionist duties.

With entrepreneurs often forced to wear many hats and fulfil many roles within a single working day, outsourcing phone answering responsibilities to a third party makes financial sense.

With the number of spam and unwanted sales calls increasing in recent years in both the UK and the US, the number of interruptions also increases. Scientific research suggests that this, in turn, increases levels of anxiety and increases the number of errors made whilst completing a task. One surprising and perhaps alarming statistic is that, on average, it takes just over 23 minutes to get back into the flow of working on a task following a single interruption.

Entrepreneurs can seldom afford to miss business calls, as for some organizations, they are the primary source of leads and sales. With this in mind, hiring a dedicated receptionist service with award-winning credentials and impressive reviews could save remote working businesses time and money.


Why use Moneypenny’s Telephone Answering Service?

For a fraction of the cost of a full-time employee, Moneypenny provides your business with a handpicked, dedicated receptionist. Your UK-based receptionist will handle your calls exactly the same as someone based in your office would. 

Let Moneypenny handle all of your business calls, and wow your clients and customers whilst you focus on the core of your work. With Moneypenny, you also get to choose a business or freephone telephone number, and you can make use of the Moneypenny app, which effectively turns your mobile phone into a virtual office communications system, without the eye-wateringly high price.

With the Moneypenny app, you can choose where your calls go to and in what order. For example, you could set all of your calls to go straight to your dedicated receptionist, or you could set your calls to go to your mobile, your office number and then, if nobody picks up – to your receptionist.

In addition, you can also manage inbound calls for other members of your team and make outbound calls on your mobile, that appear to come from your chosen business landline number.

Other benefits of using Moneypenny’s telephone answering service include:

  • No lengthy contracts
  • Great reviews on Google & Trustpilot
  • 20 years experience in business communications
  • A seven-day free trial

For more information and to sign up for a seven-day free trial – please visit our telephone answering service page.

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