As we emerge from self-quarantining, there is a big career-related question ahead. Will remote working continue Its popularity? It has certainly exploded in the United States and around the globe. Or instead, will most firms return to on-site work as soon as allowed by health officials? Do employees who have been working remotely want to rush back to on-premises jobs?
In January 2018, well before the COVID-19 virus, we wrote about the growth in the number of remote employees. By early 2020, there were more than 4.3 million such employees in the U.S.. Due to the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the current figure is probably well in excess of 20 million people.
Where Are We Today with Remote Working?
Remote working in the U.S. grew nearly fourfold from January 2020 until now. Consider these factors.
“One-third of people said that COVID-19 was the trigger to begin allowing remote work at their company. While three-quarters of executives worried about continuity and productivity during the pandemic.”
“More than half of HR leaders indicated that poor technology and/or infrastructure for remote working as the biggest barrier to effective remote working.”
“To retain staff in recovering from the COVID- 19 pandemic response later in 2020, organizations should expect that 75% of their staff will ask to expand their remote work hours by 35%.”
“Productivity and communication take a hit when employees are new to working from home. The good news is that experience helps. Those who’ve been working from home for over a month have found tools and strategies to boost collaboration and work satisfaction.”
“Nearly half of newly remote workers say that working from home has negatively affected their sense of belonging. But experienced remote workers show us that connectedness can improve over time.”
Will Remote Working Continue Its Popularity?
“The LinkedIn Workforce Confidence Index found higher levels of support for remote working in digital occupations requiring less physical contact. 85 percent of software and IT workers said they can be individually effective when working remotely. While 82 percent felt the entire industry could be effective. That confidence is underscored by Twitter’s announcement that it would allow all of its employees to work remotely on a permanent basis if they so desire, a move some observers called ‘era-defining’. The trend is also positive in finance where over 80 percent say they and the wider industry are effective while working remotely.”
“Understandably, support is lower in industries involving higher levels of human contact. Just 29 percent of people employed in the retail sector think that the industry could remain effective through remote working. The figure does rise slightly on an individual basis, however, to 44 percent. It remains to be seen if the new COVID-19 working arrangements are here to stay but judging by Twitter’s bold move, the signs are looking positive for workers in digital occupations at least.”
From Global Workplace Analytics
“We believe, based on historical trends, that those who were working remotely before the pandemic, will increase their frequency after they are allowed to return to their offices. For those who were new to remote work until the pandemic, we believe there will be a significant upswing in their adoption. Our best estimate is that we will see 25-30% of the workforce working at home on a multiple-days-a-week basis by the end of 2021.”
- Increased demand for work-from-home from employees.
- Reduced fear about work-from-home among managers and executives.
- More pressure for work-from-home for disaster preparedness.
- Greater awareness of cost-saving opportunities in work-from-home.
- Further awareness of the potential impact of work-from-home on sustainability.
- Reduced business travel.