COVID-19 has forced teams worldwide to work from home — but what lies ahead for how we work once the pandemic ends?
The global spread of COVID-19 has led to a rapid shift of companies moving to working from home and relying on remote work tools now more than ever, in an effort to maintain business continuity. For many companies, this is the first time where teams are having to collaborate, operate and communicate virtually through the power of technology.
While the pandemic continues to evolve globally, many are already planning ahead for the other side of this situation: a future where the spread of COVID-19 ceases and life slowly adjusts back. How does the huge shift in workplace behavior that we are seeing now impact how we work in the future? What can we expect from remote work going forward? How will entire organizations be transformed from this period? Let’s explore three common predictions.
Many believe that this move towards work from home will be a more permanent change, rather than a temporary one. In fact, a survey conducted by globally research company Gartner with 317 CFOs and business finance leaders found that 74% plan to move their previously on-site workforce to permanently remote positions post-COVID-19. Among this group, the biggest factor driving this permanent change was the cost-saving benefits of working from home — a factor that they have gotten clear insight on during this current outbreak. This comes from the reduction of both on-site technology spend, as well as reduced costs in real estate expenses. At the same time, there are financial benefits for the employees too: a study done by online recruitment platform FlexJobs found that remote employees save as much as $4,000 a year from commuting, office meals, and other miscellaneous expenses. These financial gains, when paired with the minimum disruption or effect on productivity levels and staff wellbeing, leaves little reason for many companies to move back to traditional working styles even after the pandemic ceases.
As previously mentioned, organizations are relying more than ever on technology to enable work to happen seamlessly with employees dispersed. There is a soaring demand for virtual workplace solutions that help teams continue to collaborate, communicate, and operate as usual. As teams move their meetings to conference calls, their workspace to a project management board and their processes to digital workflows, many are seeing the huge benefit in efficiency, convenience and transparency that comes from bringing work online.
Similarly, social workplace activities and water cooler chats are finding their online version through employee-driven group chats and virtual happy hours. With the digital workspace able to truly replicate all the elements of working together in an office, more companies are likely to stick to this as a long-term solution and method of working together as part of their “new normal”.
On the other side of the coin, there is also a huge amount of employees who don’t prefer to work from home, whether it’s due to the various distractions in their house or their preference to commute to a physical work space. An article by the New York Times on the topic suggests that many firms will resort to a hybrid approach, saying “There could be A teams and B teams working [remotely] different days.” This would then call for companies to introduce proper remote work policies to ensure a strong workplace culture and efficient operations as they work with distributed teams. Once COVID-19 is behind us, companies should apply what they have experienced and learned during this process to continually improve their remote work policies for the long term. For tips on how to set up work from home policies, check out the advice from Eko’s VP Head of People, Katie Wan here.
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