Companies are likely to soon face the choice of continuing to follow work-from-home policies after the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, or whether to return to the workplace.
According to Bloomberg, Alphabet said in its annual report earlier this year that advertising and promotional expenditures fell by $1.4bn in 2020.
The company cut spending, paused or rescheduled campaigns, and changed some events to digital-only formats due to the pandemic, with travel and entertainment expenditures falling by $371m.
The prudence used by the company during the pandemic allowed it to effectively keep its marketing and management costs steady for the first quarter of 2021, despite increasing revenues by 34%.
Meanwhile, working from home will save Google more than $1bn annually, according to its data. Most employees have worked remotely and without privileges since March 2020, which has greatly reduced the company’s expenses.
However, the tech giant plans to return to the office later this year, and CFO Ruth Porat told investors that the company was planning a “hybrid” model.
For his part, Ayman Essam, Head of the Foreign and Legal Affairs Sector at Vodafone Egypt, believes the pandemic has increased the importance of the information and communications technology (ICT) industry.
He said, “You can imagine the world living in the coronavirus pandemic without a communication system that allows people to communicate remotely, whether through smart phone applications or through mobile phone networks.”
The pandemic has confirmed the technology sector’s importance and its role in completing the process and facing challenges.
As for work policies at Vodafone Egypt, it is difficult for employees to return to work in the traditional way after the pandemic’s end.
“Now we make the company’s employees work in a hybrid system, meaning allocating days to work from home and others to work from the company alternately, so that each employee has a specific number of days to work from the office,” he added, “In my opinion, this hybrid system will continue, although the number of days available to work from the office may increase or decrease according to urgent changes.”
He explained that working from home has both advantages and disadvantages, as it achieves financial savings for companies. It does, however, cut the link between the company’s employees, and represents a great pressure on employees, unlike working from the office.
Essam believes that the hybrid system is best, because it allows for personal relationships to be maintained between members of the same system, and preserves the company’s general culture.
Basem Megahed, CEO of Raya Trading Company, a subsidiary of Raya Holding, said that implementing the work-from-home policy on a permanent basis will have negative effects on employees.
It is also likely to affect productivity as the priorities of employees, especially women, changes. By allocating part of the time as a work-from-home opportunity, the productivity is unlikely to be affected.
“We in the company have directed, after the coronavirus crisis, to provide the option for employees to work one or two days a week from home,” he said.
Marwa Mounir, Director of Public Relations at Huawei Egypt, said that, if there is one benefit from the pandemic, it is to convince people that work does not necessarily have to be solely from the office.
She added that the pandemic has demonstrated that most jobs can be done from home, and more efficiently than at the office at that.
Mounir believes working from home saves employees a lot of effort which used to be depleted in commutes, as well as reduces the resources for companies.
Mohamed El Khouly, member of the Egyptian Junior Business Association (EJB) and founder of DOTMENT Consulting, said there are about 60 million employees currently able to work from home. He added that there is no specific reason for requiring people to come to the office every day or having them work the standard 9-5 shift.
It should be noted, however, that some individuals do not enjoy the privilege of working remotely, such as those who work in the health care, retail and service industries.