These are the best of times. These are the worst of times. We acknowledge the latter but let us, for a moment, focus on the former because it helped us stay afloat. COVID-19 has completely changed the future of virtual work. Businesses across the globe are undergoing the biggest transformation in this unprecedented but the unavoidable work experiment – remote working during COVID. While remote work existed prior to the pandemic, it wasn’t mainstream. In the post-COVID world, it has forced many brick-and-mortar businesses to go online.
Surely, there are plans for how it was in the BC (Before Corona) era, but many companies have seemed to realize the benefits of remote working during COVID and how they can continue this in the PC (Post Corona) era. Let us face it, companies have saved money and time on office spaces, internet, refreshments and maintenance. And this is backed by recent studies too. As per Gartner Inc. survey in April 2020, 74% business leaders are mulling on moving nearly 5% of their on-site workforce to permanent remote positions post the coronavirus pandemic in the US. Also, 20% participants affirmed that they have put on premise technology spent on the back-burner, with another 12% saying they plan to do the same for the time being.
COVID 19 has left a huge impact on the working style around the world. That’s why a lot of changes has been done in workplace so that productivity doesn’t go down and it also ensures the safety of all employees
In fact, the CEO of AirBnB, Brian Chesky, whose home-rental company took a hit due to the pandemic, told Bloomberg that COVID-19 is an opportunity. But no, he is not talking about the post-pandemic travel boom. He is talking about remote work. “People are realizing they can work remote…that’s a huge opportunity,” he said.
So, considering the benefits of remote working during COVID, it is quite evident that the future of virtual work is already here and it is here to stay. In fact, five key changes that might shape the future of businesses and workplace culture are listed below.
Five key changes that might shape the future of businesses and workplace culture
1. Flexible Work hours and Work-Life Balance
Many creative jobs get to have flexible working hours but technology has also ensured that time and place is not a bar anymore. Businesses have been able to continue working online. So, this also means that flexible working hours might become a reality for the mainstream jobs too. However, the pandemic has affected work-life balance with work hours stretching because of the lockdown. While remote work ensures social distancing, it could also pose to be a challenge for work-life balance at workplaces that have just started experimenting with remote work.
2. The Daily Work Commute
There is a reason we have rush hours or peak hours. Office-goers travel during these hours. It is jam packed! A 9-to-5 job typically means a 30–60-minute commute time, sometimes even more. Meaning, your work life actually starts from 8 AM and might end around 6-7 PM. It is a nightmare if the commute time is more than an hour. It eats up valuable hours!
So, even if 5% of jobs are being moved to remote work permanently, it would drastically change things. Commute might change forever.
3. Teamwork and Collaboration
Earlier, many office meeting took place in board rooms. An informal or formal off-site meet would mean a restaurant. This might change going forward. A Zoom call ensures no dilly-dallying and discussions limited strictly to business. It negates the need for a set-up.
Teamwork is the most important factor for a wokplace culture. There can now be meetings from anywhere and at any time. Also, files can now be shared online and on cloud. Screens can also be accessed and shared remotely. Calling on voice and video is now practically a cakewalk.
This has also brought fresh perspective on outsourcing and offshoring work. Earlier, outsourcing was limited to big corporations, but now even the small and medium businesses have begun to see the benefits of hiring employees in India for remote work.
4. Working Spaces and Productivity
COVID has changed the working environment for everyone. As mentioned above, office spaces have fallen into disuse due to remote work and may businesses have taken keen space towards shedding. So, where would you work post the pandemic? Not just at home all the time, of course! Sometimes you will need the ambiance to boost your productivity.
WeWork is a good example. There could be emergence of more co-working spaces in the future of virtual work after COVID-19. Also, people might end up moving to suburbs and ditch their matchbox-sized apartments in big cities like London, Paris and New York.
5. Human Resources and Social Distancing
Social distancing is a by-product of remote working, and hence lessens social interactions among co-workers. This means no unnecessary frills. Grievances would be easier to address as virtual work ensures tracking and keep records. However, it would pose a new challenge for HR as hiring would also have to be done virtually.
Job descriptions would change as new tasks become highlighted for virtual work. This would be a big change for the Human Resource managers. This also means that more and more human resources managers might turn to hiring employees in India as the South Asian countries have a larger talent pool.
COVID in many ways have impacted life and work cycle of people around the world. Working from home is a new normal concept that has started now and followed by many organizations to increase the productivity and keep going with the flow in such worst condition. The organizations recognize the health risks of open-plan offices and also appreciating the cost savings by opting for remote working. They are replacing full-time employees with contractors who can be connected with them digitally and virtually. Considering that the pandemic will have long-term impacts, there are undeniable benefits of remote working during COVID. Businesses should strive to build a workforce that is comfortable working remotely.