Blog: Will Mass Remote Working Remain a Reality Post-Pandemic?
In previous years the concept of a location independent working life, meaning you can work effectively from anywhere, has been on the wish list of many. This can be referred to as WFA (Work From Anywhere). Pre-pandemic very few managed to make WFA a reality, some examples of those who did are those with their own online businesses, digital nomads and employees of the few companies who embraced this policy e.g. GitHub. However, during the pandemic many office workers of the world have experienced extended periods of time working remotely. Some have taken the opportunity to try WFA and travel back home, or to new locations, to spend months living and working whilst enjoying a totally different lifestyle. How will this impact our expectations from work and life in the future?
“Before the pandemic Americans spent 5% of their working time at home. By spring 2020 the figure was 60%. The shift has gone better than expected. People are working longer hours, but they report higher levels of happiness and productivity.” – The Economist
For the most part working from home (WFH) has gone well, therefore it’s safe to assume that remote working is here to stay, in some form or other. The benefits are clear for the employers too; research cited in a recent Harvard Business Review article, ‘Our Work-From-Anywhere Future’ LINK found that productivity increased by 13 – 22% for employees who opted into a WFH policy. Some speculate that companies will continue to allow their staff to work from home for 1 day per week. However, will the workforce demand even more freedom after they have tasted such a large dose of it?
The property site Rightmove recently reported that the top areas of growth for the UK housing market has been areas such as Newquay in Cornwall, which is a lifestyle destination by the sea where surfing and sunbathing are more prevalent than long days working in the office. Estate agents reported that houses in Newquay have been selling faster than ever and going to bidding wars, which is almost unheard-of. Not to mention the exodus of people moving out of London during the pandemic as they reflected on what their priorities were, happy to swap the bustle of Covent Garden for the open spaces of Kent.
So it appears a substantial number of people are not planning to return to the daily commute to and from the office in big cities post-pandemic, they have a new found freedom and autonomy. Is the suggested one a day a week working from home post pandemic going to cut it? Or are we going to see office workforces demanding more not only WFH, but also WFA, to allow greater lifestyle opportunities?
As a business leader and employer there is much to consider in balancing the needs of the company with those of the staff going forward. Similarly, as an employee finding a work-life balance in the new-normal may include more options. Is mass remote working going to remain a reality post-pandemic? I think we can safely assume the answer is ‘yes’ but to what degree is yet to be seen. Although the pandemic has certainly fast tracked the shift from the industrial age 9-5 office-based approach to a more flexible, lifestyle centric (potentially more productive) approach. It will be interesting to see how it unfolds.
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