Will businesses make flexible working their business as usual?

In the wake of the pandemic, employees around the globe proved that remote working was a perfectly viable alternative to commuting into a central HQ. Could this spell the end of traditional office culture?

Between the World Health Organisation officially declaring Covid-19 a pandemic on 11th March and 27th March, an estimated 16 million people in the US alone packed up their office desks and started working from home.

“These new numbers represent a seismic shift in work culture,” says senior data reporter Rani Molla at tech news website Recode. Prior to the pandemic, the number of people regularly working from home remained in the single digits, with only 4% of the US workforce working from home at least half the time, Molla explains.

After the pandemic, how likely is it that these employees who have had a taste of remote working, will want to return to the office under the same conditions as before? Not likely, say the experts. This is why many believe flexible working is here to stay.

A wake up call
Companies and businesses who are just now navigating the challenges of remote work will perhaps bolster their flexibility options, improve their technology and cybersecurity, and take a second look at their current operational processes. “This is, in fact, a wake-up call for companies who have never had to deal with something like this before. For some, perhaps the outbreak will prove that remote work is a very real option and one essential to a business continuity plan.”
Heinan Landa, CEO of IT support providers Optimal Networks and the author of The Modern Law Firm: How to Thrive in an Era of Rapid Technological Change

You can’t put the genie back in the bottle

“Once [employees have experienced remote working], they’re going to want to continue. In reality, whether you’re nine feet, nine floors, or nine miles away, you’re probably communicating with colleagues remotely. I think the percentage of people with compatible jobs will expand as knowledge-based work continues to edge out jobs that require a physical presence. The idea of anyone needing to work from one location every day 40 hours a week will seem even more antiquated than it already does today,”
Kate Lister, president of consulting firm Global Workplace Analytics

A factory reset?
“Millions of people will get the chance to experience days without long commutes, or the harsh inflexibility of not being able to stay close to home when a family member is sick… This might be a chance for a great reset in terms of how we work.”
Matt Mullenweg, chief executive of WordPress and Tumblr owner Automattic

The value of remote work
“It only makes sense that employers are going to think long and hard about expanding flexible work arrangements and remote work options once things return to some semblance of normalcy. I think companies are going to see that some, maybe many, of the jobs they’ve always thought had to be done onsite could be done just about anywhere and could be done just as well.”
Mark McGraw, analyst at research firm Institute for Corporate Productivity

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