The pandemic that took the world by storm in 2020 changed the lives of billions of people in a very short period of time. The shattering of the old world led to an unprecedented increase in remote working.
Once viewed by management as a privilege for a handful of employees, remote working is now the new normal for entire organizations.
But what about post-pandemic remote working? Will the trend continue, and will the culture of work from home prevail in a future that’s more and more uncertain?
Let’s have a quick look at some of the most common remote working predictions in a post-pandemic world.
Remote work is not going anywhere
Even before the advent of the 2020 pandemic, remote working was on the rise in many companies. In 2019, it was estimated that more than 4.3 million people worked remotely in the USA, and approximately 16% of companies only hired full-time remote workers.
The pandemic only accelerated a trend that was already on the rise. Thus, it is predicted that work from home will become a permanent change for many organizations over the next years. Today, it’s all about health reasons and flattening the curve, but the benefits of working from home cannot be ignored even when the pandemic becomes a thing of the past.
The most important factor that led to a sharp rise in remote work position was cutting costs. The cost-saving benefits of working from home translate in reduced expenses for business leases and office technology for companies and commuting and office meals for employees. Everyone benefits from a work-from-home arrangement, so there’s no reason to believe companies and employees would want to give up all the financial benefits when the pandemic fades.
And it’s not just about financial gains, of course. Working from home makes it possible to have a balanced work/family life, which often leads to improved wellbeing and increased productivity levels.
A world without limits
Experts also predict that there will be a significant boom in the number of people working remotely simply because many will take advantage of the benefits of restrictions being removed. The current global travel restrictions and lockdowns make it difficult for many people to work remotely anywhere else than from home.
However, when all the restrictions are lifted, it will be once again possible to take your work with you wherever you want, and many workers are bound to want to take advantage of that.
Being able to set up shop on a beach in Asia or in the heart of a European city will also be made more tempting for many thanks to the advances in technology. As the COVID-19 pandemic showed us, everyone has become more dependent on technology not just for work, but also for daily interactions.
Communication tools made it possible for companies and organizations worldwide to keep working, which meant that everything from meetings to customer engagement moved online. Technology is already at a point where it’s possible to have instant communication with people living on the other side of the world, and advancements don’t show any signs of slowing down.
As such, when the pandemic is over, it’s highly unlikely for lots of individuals of businesses to go back to the way things were before. Of course, some things will be taken off Zoom, like important meetings, for example. Still, communication tools are going to continue to be used much more than before for efficiency purposes.
Expectations have changed
Millions of employees have become accustomed to unprecedented levels of flexibility during the pandemic months, and employers now need to figure out how to address their expectations moving forward.
It is highly likely for employers to be faced with some resistance if they simply try to revert to the way things were before. Even before 2020, more and more candidates, particularly Millennials and Gen Z, were interested in working for companies that offered flexibility.
To achieve better engagement levels among existent staff and attract new talent successfully, companies are very likely to continue to embrace flexibility and remote work even after all the restrictions are lifted.
It’s not all perfect, though
Multiple studies have shown that working remotely is beneficial for workers and employers alike. However, there are some cons as well, and they might be the reason for which some people are going to want to return to the old kind of workplace post-pandemic.
The most affected workers are parents, who realized that having your office at home can lead to a very hectic life during the pandemic. Even though some of the challenges they faced during the pandemic will eventually go away (home-schooling, for example), others will remain.
Many people have found that working from home, particularly when there are kids involved, means working longer hours. If you’re currently catching up on work late in the evening when the kids are finally asleep or on the weekends, you might forget how to stop when the world recovers from the pandemic.
Moreover, employers might get used to the idea that workers are practically on-call all the time. If you’re expected to check your email and reply outside business hours, you’re basically doing overtime without being paid for it. Workers are likely not going to be content with this situation, so new rules need to be established. (For example, in France, it’s currently against the law for employers to send emails to employees outside business hours.)
The pandemic has definitely altered the way billions of people around the world live and work. But there’s a silver lining to all of this, though, and that’s a chance in the work culture, and the way companies and employees interact. With more benefits than downsides, the trend is bound to continue even after the pandemic becomes a thing of the past.