The Covid-19 pandemic caused a major upheaval in the global work economy in 2020. The immediate and often severe repercussions were: As workplaces closed, millions of individuals were furloughed or lost their jobs, and others quickly adjusted to remote work. Many more workers were deemed essential and continued to work in hospitals and supermarkets, on garbage trucks, and in warehouses, but under new guidelines.
While working from home used to be a luxury offered by select employers, it has now become the norm for most. 70% of the workforce will be working remotely at least five days a month by 2025, according to estimates. While 2020 may be seen as the year of remote work, we believe it is only the beginning.
Will work from home become permanent?
As portions of the world recover from the immediate effects of Covid-19, a debate has erupted about how many businesses will continue to support remote work. Sandeep Mathrani, the CEO of WeWork, recently raised a few eyebrows when he stated that “least-engaged” employees may choose to work from home: "Those who are uberly engaged with the company want to go to the office two-thirds of the time, at least."
Many industry experts and analysts, on the other hand, disagree, predicting that the profitable businesses of the 2020s would be those built on work-from-anywhere cultures. "Companies that do not offer at least three days of remote work per week will struggle to attract the best employees in the future, according to Chris Herd, founder, and CEO of FirstbaseHQ. "Work in the office is only done from afar.
As the Covid issue demonstrated, many company leaders were struck by the potential of remote employment. "The biggest surprise was how firms effectively responded to the losses and how business executives quickly altered models and processes to adapt to the new landscape," says Elements Global Services CEO and founder Rick Hammell. "It will be quite sometime before any of us can fully comprehend the entirety of the pandemic's effect on the economy. It was interesting to see how perceptions of remote work and fully remote teams changed so dramatically after being essentially forced into it."
Young people prefer working from home
In a study done by Bloomberg News in May, Morning Consult found that 39 percent of Americans surveyed would certainly consider looking for a new job if their employer requested them to return to work. Among young people, the rate is significantly greater. According to the study, a whopping 49% of Gen Z and millennials would quit their jobs if their managers aren't willing to be flexible with remuneration. However, there were only a thousand respondents to the survey.
In April, FlexJobs, a company that connects remote employees with employment, released data showing that not having to commute saves some people up to $5,000 a year, and 84 percent of the 2,184 working people surveyed for the report indicated that “no commute” was the top benefit for them.
Only 2% of those polled expressed an interest in returning to work. Many current career gurus believe that corporations need to adjust their rules, even if some old-school corporate big wigs don't want to hear it.
Remote work means less office space
Following favorable experiences with remote work during the epidemic, some organizations are already preparing to convert to flexible workspaces, reducing overall space requirements and bringing fewer workers into offices each day. According to a McKinsey poll of 278 CEOs conducted in August 2020, they planned to reduce office space by 30% on average. As a result, demand for restaurants and shopping in metropolitan areas, as well as public transit, may fall.
Remote Work and Mental Health
For today's remote workforce, mental health is important: an overwhelming majority of workers (80%) would contemplate abandoning their current job for one that prioritized employee mental health. According to TELUS International's recent survey of 1,000 Americans, this is the case. Research suggests, 75% of American workers have struggled at work as a result of worry brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak, social distancing, and other recent world events.
According to Dr. Dominique Steiler, professor of people, organizations, and society at Grenoble School of Business, the abrupt transition to a remote work environment has been shockingly distressing for many employees.
He's noticed an increase in workplace anxiety and sadness since the pandemic began. Working from home has three negative effects on our mental health. When workers are stressed or concerned, the sudden loss of physical connection might make them feel as though they have nowhere to turn. Forming a solid support network, which is critical for healthy mental health, becomes increasingly difficult.
Back-to-back virtual meetings are becoming popular, which would be impossible in a real office. Many workers are spending more time in these meetings as they have fewer opportunities for informal catch-ups. These virtual meetings can cause tiredness and leave participants feeling alienated, in addition to being time-consuming.
Is it a viable option?
McKinsey & Company examined the possibility of remote work across more than 2,000 tasks used in 800 occupations in the eight focal nations to see how widespread it might be after the epidemic. They estimate that between 20 and 25 percent of industrialized economies' workforces could work from home three to five days a week if only remote work can be done without a loss of productivity. This is four to five times more remote employment than before the pandemic, and it might lead to a significant shift in the geography of employment, as people and businesses migrate from big cities to suburbs and small towns.
During the pandemic, many consumers found the convenience of e-commerce and other internet activities. The share of e-commerce in 2020 was two to five times higher than it was before COVID-19. According to McKinsey Consumer Pulse surveys done around the world, over three-quarters of consumers who used digital channels for the first time during the epidemic believe they will continue to use them once things return to "normal."