Remote working has become increasingly popular in recent years, and the Covid pandemic has taken this form of work to a whole new level. No longer do you have to get up, get ready, commute to work and commute back at the end of the day. People are now saving time by heading to their home office or working on the couch. When you stop into an office building, you may as well hear crickets. Desks are abandoned, lights have been dimmed to save on energy and elevators are empty. As more and more people become vaccinated and we develop herd immunity, will we see people heading back to the office? The new norm may continue to be people working from home. After all, its saves money on site. Companies have actually seen an increase in productivity from their employees. People are able to structure their days a bit differently, which motivates them to get work done. What can we expect from remote working?
What Are the Numbers?
Two surveys were conducted by Erik Brynjolfsson through MIT. Along with five other economists in his field, they determined that half the working population in the U.S. is currently working remote. While some professionals believe that working remotely with the use of a camera and phone contact just isn’t the same as being in the office, it’s been productive nonetheless. What really lacks is the social interaction, team building and ability for management guidance. Promotions and educational opportunities aren’t as prevalent. As we see more companies focus their efforts on productivity, there may be a shift in hiring practices to allow more remote workers from other areas of the country. You may also see companies that just don’t care to change how they have been doing things all along.
Productivity and the J-Curve
Going back to Erik Brynjolfsson’s study, he proposes a theory that he calls the “Productivity J-Curve”. This pattern refers to companies that want to hold on to in-person working rather than allowing more and more people to stay home. The companies that eventually turn to working from home sometimes see a bit of a drop in productivity levels at first. It takes a little bit of time for everyone to adapt, but the return on investment is typically worth it. After all, there’s going to be a learning curve for management regarding how everything will be run. From there, employees will need to figure out their way.
Covid-19 and Remote Working
Remote working has provided people with some incredible benefits during this pandemic. The at-risk population was given the opportunity to remain safe, rather than having to expose themselves to the virus that seems to be lurking around every corner these days. Children who had the opportunity to learn remotely have been able to, thanks to their parents being home from the office. School as a childcare option hasn’t been a focus like it has been for decades now. We’ve even seen a shift in the family dynamic as kids and their parents have been able to bond more than ever before.
Visiting the Office on a Rolling Schedule
After the pandemic has ended, companies are talking about what should be done to bring workers back into the office. If they come back at all, some companies have started to talk about bringing people back part time in-person, while allowing the work to be done remotely the rest of the time. You may see only a quarter or half of the employees coming in on any given day. This will provide employees with the opportunity to work from home more often than they’re used to pre-Covid, but there’s also the opportunity to touch base with management and other employees. Workers can be tasked with what they’re going to be working on from home in the coming days, and meetings can be scheduled for the period of time when they return. It’s likely that Zoom calls and other video conferencing will continue to be utilized long into the future. We may even see other platforms start to pop up as the need for this type of technology increases.
While some small businesses and more traditionally focused companies try to hang on to having their staff come into the office in-person, they may be forced to change their ways in the future as professionals seek jobs that provide them with the opportunity to be home more. This is especially tempting for mothers who want to be home with their children more, or parents that have conflicting schedules that make it difficult to arrange childcare. One thing is for certain, the rush hour traffic continues to look much lighter than normal, and we may see this become the norm in the future.