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Work from home for life? Why companies around the world want to make remote work permanent

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A man works from home as multinationals seek to make remote work permanent.
A man works from home as multinationals seek to make remote work permanent.   -   Copyright  AP Photo

Over a year has passed since COVID-19 first arrived, shuttering schools and workplaces around the world and upending our daily routines.

But some would argue that not all of the changes precipitated by the pandemic have been for the worse - in particular the huge shift to remote and flexible working arrangements.

In some ways, COVID-19 forced our societies to undergo a large-scale social experiment in mass tele-working. And the result? Some companies have had to accept that their fears of productivity dropping due to remote working were untrue.

Instead, many are pointing out the advantages to this new lifestyle: No commuting, reduced need for office space, better work-life balance, and more autonomy.

Some multinationals have sought to make the switch permanent so they too can absorb the benefits of this system.

Such has been the case with Japanese technology giant Fujitsu which employs 80,000 people across Japan.

Maintaining the 'Work Life Shift'

The company is maintaining its "Work Life Shift" policy, offering unprecedented flexibility to its workers.

"We were addressed to shift into the new working styles, free from location or time constraint, and where employees can select the best time and location by themselves," said Hiroki Hiramatsu, the Chief Human Resources Officer of Fujitsu.

Hiramatsu believes that in the long run, remote working will empower women in the workplace and also help revitalise rural communities by expanding the possibilities of where employees can be located. He points out that his company also benefits from a wider pool to recruit from.

"From the corporate point of view, we can hire various talents regardless of place and support them to play an active role in the company".

Nevertheless, experts warn that if other companies want to instate teleworking and remain competitive, they will need to address IT and security issues the pandemic has laid bare.

"The remote working environment created by the rush to work through the COVID pandemic resulted in the eruption of IT problems that corporates had been holding," said Hironobu Uchino, the Chief Editor of ITmedia.

"There are various problems that companies have to solve, but while some companies are taking initiatives to resolve those issues, some are still passive or delaying IT investments, which divides the corporates into two groups".

Video editor • Aisling Ní Chúláin