Remote work is here to stay…

Working from home or remote work, a few months ago, was a wish of many. Today almost the entire world is practicing remote work due the worldwide pandemic of COVID-19. Over the last decade, there has been much debate about how the future world might include remote work and education that will be delivered online completely across all levels. COVID-19 has given the world that push into the absolute digital era.

Remote work is not an alien concept as some people have been practicing it for certain types of jobs and also due to some special circumstances of employees. The number of people working remotely has been creeping up regardless over the past as the research from the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank found that remote working increased from 0.7% of fulltime employees in 1980 to 3% in 2017. Furthermore, from 2012 to 2016, the number of U.S. employees working remotely accelerated from 39% to 43%.

Many employers, however, were quite unenthusiastic and unwilling towards remote working in the past, the reason being the fear of employee’s unproductivity. Today’s pandemic forced the sudden shift towards work from home as a need of the hour. This made employers to rethink and consider a change in their policies supporting remote work in the future. Recently, Twitter announced that its employees can now work from home indefinitely.

A survey was conducted by Airtasker on 1004 full-time employees about their work habits and productivity – 505 of those employees were remote workers. The results indicated that remote employees are actually more productive that their office-based counterparts. They worked more hours than those who were office-based, took longer breaks in between keeping their productivity at par and said that were distracted less from work by their bosses, allowing them to complete the task at hand efficiently and timely.  Moreover, other studies have found a higher level of engagement, flexibility, better physical health and positive feelings regarding work and their companies amongst remote workers – all leading to increased overall productivity.

Such studies further provide confidence to employers to make the shift in their companies’ structure. Some companies have already started working to put in effect the changes in their company operations after COVID-19 dissipates stated Satish Shankar, regional managing partner of Bain & Company Asia-Pacific. They are considering cutting travel expenses, investing in better technology and home office set ups for employees.

Another way to comprehend the inevitable big shift is by looking at the change in the usage of online platforms. Statistics suggest that Microsoft Teams users have risen up by 20 million from November 2019 to March 2020. Moreover, the daily participants for online meetings via Zoom increased from 10 million in the December of 2019 to 200 million by March of 2020. Zooming has become a new verb according to Michael Bowes, a barrister and joint head of Outer Temple Chambers in London.

The current crises encompassing COVID-19 will only last temporarily till a successful vaccine or a treatment is found. Remote working, on the other hand, might have a permanent impact on work life; as both the employers and employees have gotten a taste of how effective, productive and flexible remote work can be.


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