Today marks the 10th week of working from home due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Millions of employees who are usually office-based are working remotely as the world is eagerly trying to tackle the issue. Is this temporary or will remote work change the culture of business entirely?
In our opinion, work is forever changed and the future is shifting to allow for a more remote workforce.
Remote working has been on the rise for years - thanks to the availability of digital communication tools that allow employees to do their jobs outside of the office. Business-focused chat apps like Slack and reliable video-conference tools like Zoom make it easier to connect with colleagues and be productive without sitting in the same office, or even the same country.
According to Zoom daily participants in meetings grew from 10 million in December of 2019 to 200 million in March of 2020. That’s a twenty-fold increase!
More Remote Work is here to stay
Although the current crisis concerning the COVID-19 lockdown is temporary, the latest shift toward remote work will have lasting effects. After both employees and employers get a taste of how effective remote work is, they’re not likely to entirely go back to their old ways of a 9-5 corporate office lifestyle.
It’s clear that flexibility is a key factor in whether employees decide to take a particular job, moving forward this may even be a factor linked to how long people stay in their roles. Gallup found that 54% of office workers would be willing to quit their job for one that allows them to work remotely. The article also found that those who work remotely three to four days a week are more engaged in their work. The option to work remotely tends to lead to better work-life balance as well.
As decades of Gallup research shows, when employees are engaged - their performance soars. Highly engaged workplaces can claim 41% lower absenteeism, 40% fewer quality defects, and 21% higher profitability. That’s huge.
New talent pools and opportunities
Prior to the global pandemic, businesses were struggling with a shortage of medium to high-skilled workers. This challenge was exacerbated by an approach that relied heavily on hiring talent within commuting distance of an office, call center, or other hub. Tech-enabled remote work models have opened businesses eyes to the potential of hiring great talent - ignoring the overall location factor.
According to CEBR, companies offering remote working options can better compete in the battle for talent by dipping into untapped pools of workers, including those in rural locations; and those outside the conventional workforce, including stay-at-home parents; those caring for aging relatives; retirees; and gig workers. The same article went on to state that a whopping 69-percent of individuals currently unemployed said that they would be encouraged to start working if given the opportunity to do so on a more flexible basis.
A more flexible futute
There’s still heaps of uncertainty about when life will return to some sort of normal. When the lockdown restrictions come to an end and people return to work, they are likely going to find that traditional office work looks and feels different than it used to. Employees who get a taste of the flexibility of remote work are likely to want to keep some of that flexibility, even if it means working remotely just a couple days a week. Likewise, employers will see that employees can be trusted to work from home while staying connected and still creating value. All of this points toward a workforce with greater flexibility, more productivity, and freedom to choose how and where we spend our time.