Will remote work become the new normal?
If there's one silver lining to the pandemic it's that more people started to work from home, meaning they have been able to spend more time with their families but will the remote work trend continue once we're post-pandemic? Will remote work become the new normal? That's a good question and the short answer is: yes. Here's why.
We're at a moment in time with technology that actually allows for this to be an effective model for businesses. Thanks to widespread internet connectivity and apps like mmhmm, Slack, Asana, Zoom, hell, even just regular old email, you're able to stay connected with your team with ease – from literally anywhere.
In 1918 when the last pandemic occurred, none of this technology existed or was even close to existing. In fact, it's entirely likely that if the pandemic we're currently experiencing occurred in the early-to-mid 2000s we would be in an even worse place economically than we are now due to the fact streaming live video on the internet was still very new and companies like Slack, Asana, and Zoom weren't even dreamt up yet.
People want flexibility now, especially after they got a taste of working remotely. The cat is out of the bag, it's not going back in – remote work is here to stay and it's only going to get more popular. I fully expect to see companies start offer remote work options to new and existing employees, even post-pandemic.
Remember how companies like Google and Facebook would lure potential employees with nice perks? You know, free food, free massages, child care, gyms, etc. Well, now they'll be adding remote work to that list of perks. This is an important move for the entire workforce, it's a move that means companies will need to start treating their employees more like competent, hard working adults and measuring their productivity through actual metrics instead of just making sure there are "butts in seats."
With the pandemic we've all seen how employees are still able to get their job done despite not being in a physical office. See? It is possible. One thing I always hated about working in an office was the downtime, what am I supposed to do between working on projects? Normally, I'd just sit at my desk and try to find other things to work on and/or make myself useful but in the times where I literally had nothing else to do or was waiting to hear back from someone before moving to the next phase of a project, I would just sit there. It always frustrated me, I'd much rather prefer to sit in the comfort of my own home than an office, but that's just the way things were.
While I'm not a parent, I know that many parents appreciate the ability to work remotely. It lets them be more involved in their child's life, which is always beneficial. Plus, when kids can go back to school, it will make their parents ability to work remotely even easier as they'll no longer have to play teacher in addition to their normal job.
Even before the pandemic started, Stanford University economist Nick Bloom conducted a two-year study on 16,000 Chinese call center employees to determine how working from home impacted their productivity.
His research found that employees who worked from home were 13 percent more productive and took fewer breaks between calls than those who worked in the office. More important, the employees working from home were happier than office workers and were far less likely to quit their jobs, regardless of whether they were considered poor- or high-performing.
Happier employees are more productive employees and also less likely to quit. That's the bottom line here. The fact that we're seeing companies continue to innovate and ship new products despite these unprecedented times proves that remote work is not just possible – but highly viable.
If that wasn't enough of a reason for remote work to become the new normal, maybe this is: it's helpful to the bottom line.
Having fewer employees in offices reduces real estate costs significantly, especially in prohibitively expensive cities like San Francisco and New York City. Companies also reduce spending on in-office technology like phone systems, servers, and other services that can be offloaded to the cloud (or eliminated altogether).
In fact, cost-saving efforts have already begun: 20 percent of CFOs have eliminated technology spending for 2020 and 13 percent have cut their company’s real estate expenses, according to a Gartner study that polled 317 CFOs. Another 12 percent of CFOs will defer technology expenditures indefinitely and 9 percent plan to reduce their real estate expenses in the coming months.
The traditional 9 to 5 work week is dead. We're entering a new era of work, which includes remote work and more flexibility. If you're interested in learning even more about it, I'd recommend giving a listen to our podcast episode featuring Jesse Chambers, CEO at wrkfrce.
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