Remote Work After COVID-19: What Will Change?
It’s painfully clear to everyone that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused massive changes around the world. Businesses and industries across the board were affected, leaving them to make the best of whatever means they have.
But this unique situation was the chance for one particular working model to shine: remote work. Seeing that the pandemic called for a worldwide lockdown, businesses that could put together a telecommuting infrastructure were able to emerge from the quarantine comparatively unscathed.
To be sure, remote work had quite a bit to offer even before the pandemic. Seeing that around 35% of employees would quit their current job if offered one that allowed full-time remote work; there’s clearly some merit to it. Yet, even on its way up, it was still not enough to become the norm.
But has the coronavirus-induced lockdown affected the pace at which remote work grows in popularity? Will it skyrocket as the newly-affirmed hero of the industry? How will the way businesses view telecommuting change?
Read on and find out!
Greater Appreciation for the Remote Paradigm
Coming out of the coronavirus crisis, one of the more prominent changes we will see is a greater acceptance of remote work as a staple of many a profession. The dynamic it brings to the table has already shown itself pretty valuable during the lockdown, showing an opportunity to boost overall productivity.
We can see this embrace of telecommuting even now before the coast is completely clear. Gartner’s survey revealed that as many as 74% of CFO’s have plans to have some of their workers permanently placed in a remote position. The number of their employees most of them intend to shift to telecommuting is 5%, which isn’t huge, but it’s still a relevant amount.
That said, some CFO’s showed a desire for more radical changes. You can see in this graph that a good amount of them feel like a higher percentage of remote workers would be preferable. Anywhere between 10% and 15% seemed acceptable to many, and some even wanted to make more than half of their labor force work remotely.
Remote working saved many a business’ necks during the lockdown, and the higher-ups are evidently taking notice of that fact too. And it’s not just a few industries that benefited. While more hands-on jobs clearly couldn’t integrate telecommuting, there are quite a few professions that could do at least a part of their work from home.
Research coming from Slack can show us the more agreeable positions in terms of switching to remote work.
This shows us that plenty of companies can afford to move a portion of their staff into a from-home setting on at least a temporary basis.
The Necessity of Remote Experience and Technology Revealed
When the COVID-19 ordeal came to a head with a statewide/worldwide lockdown, most of us were forced to stay at home and wait it out. The organizations that wanted to emerge from the situation intact had little choice but to resort to remote work. Some were well-prepared for that move; some, not so much.
Due to the lockdown, those who were not familiar with telecommuting had to endure a “crash course,” or a trial run, of the concept. No matter how well they performed under this kind of pressure, they all learned a vital lesson: experience and technology are pivotal to effective remote work.
You see, remote work comes with its own array of challenges. Factors such as isolation, loneliness, communication, distractions, are amplified when telecommuting. Someone doing it for the first time will likely run up against a wall after a short while. Buffer’s research shines a light on what problems at-home workers face the most on a daily basis.
And the problem isn’t solely in the individual and their ability to tackle these challenges. Any business suddenly jumping into a remote mode of work will definitely find itself lacking the right resources and infrastructure to collaborate efficiently. This heavily contributes to poor communication, explaining at least in part why some 70% of telecommuters feel left out of the loop.
The importance of having proper systems in place, from platforms like Slack, Trello, or Asana to video chat tools was never as apparent as during the coronavirus pandemic. The crisis also demonstrated how much experience matters for everyone involved in getting quality work done.
Making Work More Flexible
While there were more than enough pitfalls to avoid in the sudden migration to telecommuting, it was obviously not without its benefits. And one of the most commonly cited perks of working from home was the ability to adjust work hours to one’s own liking.
A flexible working model provides people the means to dictate how they will drive their productivity. Some are more productive at night, whereas some are early birds. Meanwhile, some might prefer to work in increments throughout the day.
No matter the preference, though, almost all agree that the option to edit working hours to one’s liking is a clear advantage. In fact, as many as 90% of employees believe that flexibility would improve the morale in the company they work in.
Flexibility is a greatly lauded upside to remote working. You can see in the below graph that it’s actually what most remote workers point to as the best part of telecommuting.
Source: Business 2 Community
Remote work, along with its perks, has shown how well it can complement (or even supplant in some cases) parts of a company’s infrastructure. As such, employers will probably be much more eager to cater to this rising need for flexible work in the future.
But don’t expect flexible working hours in your office next week or anything like that. That’s still a fairly radical change in any company’s dynamics. Rather, the shift will be gradual, and other benefits of remote working will likely be the first that drive its further implementation. Remote work with fixed hours and room for overtime will likely be the standard for a good while.
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