Is Remote Work Here To Stay?
For as long as I can remember there have been discussions about remote work and when that would become the reality for almost everyone on the planet. Tim Ferriss discussed in his book The Four Hour Work Week over a decade ago that the technology to facilitate us remotely working from any part of the world already existed. But for many, this was always still a pipe dream. Although you could have made the argument that the technology already existed very few bosses or companies were willing to allow people to work remotely when they should be in the office.
However, one of the most positive aspects of the pandemic has been the proof that many of us are capable of working from home and the technology exists and is widely enough available that millions of us can work from home with no alteration to our productivity. Many people I’ve spoken to even claim that they are more productive whilst working at home. They don’t have to commute – there is no need for them to go back and forth on the train or the bus or in the car in rush hour traffic. Most of my colleagues and friends are hoping that this arrangement can stay as it has been over the past 18 months, even as the pandemic begins to come to an end.
Before the crisis, surveys repeatedly found that some 80% of employees wanted to work from home at least some of the time. One of the biggest fears was always that employees would be less productive at home and less likely to do the work required. Thankfully, the pandemic has conquered these fears out of necessity rather than forward-thinking practices.
The real question for many is now whether or not we will be asked to go back to the office in the same way that we had previously worked. So will we be allowed to continue working from home even when the risks of Covid have been eliminated? Early signs are positive! A recent survey from Gartner CFO found that 74% of plan to permanently shift some employees to remote work after the Covid-19 crisis ends.
Erik Bradley, chief engagement strategist at ETR, commented that, “The productivity metric is proving that remote work is working… So, we all thought that there would be some increase in permanent remote work, but we didn’t expect that to double from pre-pandemic levels.”
Big tech Giants like Amazon, Facebook, Hubspot, Dropbox and more are already declaring that they will continue remote working indefinitely. It makes sense; why would a company choose to have an office in which they had to pay rent overheads etc when people are just as happy to work from home? According to Forbes, by 2025, an estimated 70% of the workforce will be working remotely at least five days a month.
Rani Molla suggested in a piece for Vox.com that this flexibility will more likely be extended to those for whom, being in the office is not an important part of their work. In other words, those highly skilled workers like programmers and software engineers are more likely to have flexibility than, say, a human resources employee:
“The most flexibility will go to knowledge workers. These high-skilled workers, whose jobs are mediated by computers, will be much more likely than before the pandemic to be allowed to work from home at least some of the time in what’s called the hybrid work model.”
Businesses now have the opportunity to cut their overheads significantly by reducing or eliminating their office space and moving to an entirely digital presence. As Katie Lister, President of Global Workplace Analytics has rightly pointed out, “Employees around the globe are not at their desk 50% to 60% of the time! That’s a huge waste of space and money.”
Ultimately whether you can continue to work from home will be determined by the company you work for, your manager, and the industry in which you work. What is clear is that tech jobs are far more likely to continue to be remote and cloud computing services and team collaboration software will become more and more necessary in the future.
By Josh Hamilton