How Remote Work Will Evolve and Dominate in a Post-Pandemic World
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses were reluctant to switch to a remote or hybrid option for their employees. For some, it was almost impossible to figure out what work from home solutions might look like. Other company leaders worried they couldn’t track the productivity of staff operating outside the office.
The pandemic changed everything. Suddenly, social distancing forced brands to figure out how to let people work from home for extended periods. Executives began using Zoom and Google Meet for daily conference calls, and IT departments worked overtime to get remote systems on the cloud.
As the number of coronavirus cases recedes, more people get vaccinated, and life resumes, many businesses are left wondering what’s next. Employees are now used to remote work, productivity is higher than ever before, and people like the flexibility of zero commute time. So what’s next in our post-pandemic business world?
Pew Internet Research questioned 915 business leaders and innovators about what life might look like in 2025. Around 86% of respondents felt the pandemic would continue to impact an evolving digital life. However, they worry about both positive and negative results from a more connected and internet-reliant world.
The pandemic forced businesses that didn’t think they could go remote to do so. In addition, the sudden change accelerated the push to connect to the internet of things (IoT). For example, although larger cities had delivery services and curbside pickup, even smaller businesses in rural areas added these features.
Stores ramped up their apps, their processes, and the way they fulfill orders. People are now used to those services, and they aren’t likely to go away anytime soon. While they can’t complete all of the work remotely, those who keep up the systems are likely to work from home.
During the height of the pandemic, those in large cities relocated to the suburbs or more rural areas. Some wanted to escape the fear of the high number of cases of COVID-19, while others were already looking to escape the city’s hustle.
It isn’t likely those workers want to relocate again. Many settled into their current living quarters and wish to stay. When business resumes, they may have to decide between returning to the office or finding something enabling them to remain at home. Companies risk losing their most skilled workers to other corporations still allowing remote work.
The United States Chamber of Commerce recently announced an initiative to overcome the country’s current labor shortage. It’s hard to predict how effective the attempt might be. However, in an economy where many companies struggle to find bodies to fill open positions, businesses will be forced to offer concessions to keep their people.
If workers demand work-from-home opportunities, organizations have no choice but to offer the option. Therefore, expect remote work or hybrid arrangements to be a part of future employment negotiations going forward.
Push Toward Digital Collaboration
A recent survey of CEOs discovered about 61% pointed to a more digital future for their businesses. The pandemic showed many leaders the advantages of tapping into project management tools and allowing people a bit more freedom and creativity as they go about their daily tasks.
Not only does online project management and collaboration keep better track of tasks and deadlines, but clients can hop in to give their input during brainstorming sessions or to approve ideas before implementing them.
Reducing Overhead Costs
Although some companies were reluctant to move to a remote working situation, being forced into it uncovered the many advantages of such an arrangement. A lot of small startups noticed that they no longer needed as much office space to accommodate a skeleton crew.
Less office space means lower rent, smaller utility bills, and less of everything. Expect some companies to continue allowing remote work simply to downsize the office. While they might still need a meeting space for the occasional motivational talk or retreat, they can scale down daily operations and save thousands of dollars a year.
Making Less of a Carbon Footprint
Many corporations want to reduce their impact on the environment. A green company attracts like-minded customers who wish to keep the planet pristine for future generations.
In 2020, global carbon emissions fell by approximately 6.4% or 2.3 billion tonnes. Allowing people to work from home means fewer cars on the road on any given day. The impact may seem insignificant, but every effort adds up.
With people more aware than ever of the earth and how healthy it is, there may be an increased push to less commuting to and from work. The rising cost of fuel is another consideration. People may not want to spend the money necessary to drive to work and back every day of the week.
Co-Working and Hybrid Approaches
Working from home in the future may not look like it does today. For example, rather than working in your own home, you may have to commute to a closer shared space that is more dedicated to the task at hand and with fewer distractions.
Many companies are moving to a hybrid approach, where workers come into the office a couple of days a week for meetings and brainstorming. Then, they work from home the other days completing necessary tasks to meet the goals set during the in-person sessions.
What About Socialization?
Some people enjoy being with groups of their peers. They don’t like the isolation of a home office without any human interaction. The most likely scenario in the next few years is smaller office spaces, regular meetings, and work from home models that keep the employee remote most of the time but still connected to their coworkers and bosses.
It’s impossible to predict all the new technology emerging from a ramped-up IoT, but one thing is sure. We can’t go back entirely to the way things were pre-pandemic. The post-pandemic world looks quite different, and that isn’t completely a bad thing. Working from home has many benefits both companies and employees desire.