Months into the outbreak of COVID-19 and it has become evident that this pandemic will change how jobs are structured in the long-term. In fact, an estimated 25 to 30 percent of American employees could work from home a couple of days per week by the end of 2021, according to a Global Workplace Analytics prediction, with or without further lockdown.
To work remotely or not, that is the question
When numerous companies were forced to close their offices during the shelter-in-place orders back in March, their teams had to adjust to remote work out of necessity. Now, business owners and employees alike have started to recognize the benefits of remote work as a permanent solution.
A TED Talk by Stanford University economics professor Nicholas Bloom reports that working from home can result in more job satisfaction, productivity, and concentration than when working on site.
Bloom attributes this to the need for fewer breaks and time off when working from home. Not to mention, remote workers don’t have to deal with long commutes and are often more able to maintain a work-life balance. This recent trend even has some major corporations rethinking whether they will return to an office culture full-time at all.
But that’s not all. Here’s our forecast for the future of remote work post COVID-19.
Flexible hours could be more readily accepted
The need to split time between both personal and professional demands has never been more urgent than in the midst of this lockdown. Employees have been tasked with finishing their work projects, homeschooling their children, and creating a semblance of order and normalcy in their routines.
With all these responsibilities jockeying for attention, it’s not always realistic to expect a nine-to-five workday. COVID-19 has brought into sharp focus just how beneficial it is for employees to structure their own schedules as long as they meet deadlines and work the essential number of hours.
As of April 2020, an estimated 57 percent of workers were given flextime by their employers, according to a Gallup survey, and more than half want this perk to continue.
Virtual communication will replace most of the meetings
Even before the pandemic shook business and work-life, the traditional office meeting had a reputation of being a waste of time and resources. In fact, in 2019 inefficient meetings cost U.S. companies $399 billion, suggests data from Doodle. In addition to this financial impact, surveyed workers also noted that meetings tend to disrupt their other tasks and reduce clarity and focus on projects.
The transition to remote work has proven that team communication through chat, phone calls, video conferences or even email is quicker and often more constructive than an in-person meeting. In How to Lead Better Remote Meetings, Gartner’s first three tips are indicative of this trend:
- Consider whether you need a meeting at all.
- Make meetings shorter and plan for distractions.
- Consider unconventional meeting lengths, like 20 or 50 minutes.
Also, during this pandemic, service providers have noticed the revival of the traditional phone call when voice communication has surged back after years on the decline.
Business travel will pick back up, or will it?
As of April 2020, 94 percent of American business travel had been canceled, according to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA). While one might assume for business travel to be postponed indefinitely, in a follow-up poll by GBTA in May found that 49 percent of their members plan to return to traveling for business in three months.
However, Rachel King, travel editor at Fortune shares a different potential view of business travel: “Most experts agree that it will take a widely available vaccine for COVID-19 to restore consumer and business travel confidence, but that could take anywhere from 12 to 18 months.”
Home office budgets could be a perk
As the ubiquity of remote working increases, more companies have started to give their employees home office stipends for the materials, technology, furniture, and supplies they need. As the trend continues, a home office budget may become a standard employee benefit in the long-term.
What’s more, this can produce a significant ROI for employers too. Since the brain is designed for structure, a furnished, organized and stocked environment leads to higher creativity and performance, according to research from Harvard Business Review.
Remote work forecast post lockdown
It remains to be seen how the American workforce and economy will rebound in the aftermath of COVID-19. But it’s safe to assume the post lockdown world is in for some permanent changes. And remote work could, in fact, be one of those shifts.
Are you ready to deliver the necessary tools to help your customers embrace this future?