In just a few short weeks, COVID-19 has turned the way the entire world works on its head. In particular, to combat the transmission of the coronavirus, the current 9 – 6 office-based work model was quickly set aside and a large scale move towards remote work was made on a global scale.
Remote work is nothing new, in fact, it’s been around for quite some time and many companies around the world had already implemented some sort of remote or flexible work arrangements before COVID-19 took this world by storm. However, the coronavirus pandemic forced this shift of the current work model on a large scale and regardless of whether companies had remote work policies in place or not, they had to comply so as to reduce the spread of this disease.
Although the initial few weeks may have been tough, by now, most people have settled into their work-from-home routines and what was once thought impossible has been achieved. Remote work is certainly possible, even on such a large scale, and there is no clear need for people to be coming into the office for work every single day. In this article, we’ll look at how coronavirus has changed the work model and discuss the future of work during and after this pandemic.
The need for social distancing
Unfortunately, COVID-19 is here to stay for a while. Unlike other viruses, even those of the same family such as SARS, COVID-19 is highly infectious due to the fact that affected people can remain asymptomatic for up to two weeks – and during this time, they can still infect others with the virus even though they show no outward signs of being sick.
Until herd immunity is achieved through the use of vaccines, there will likely need to be some social distancing measures in place to limit the transmission of this virus. Expert opinions say a vaccine is another 12 to 18 months away – and there’s no guarantee that they will be a complete solution to this problem. While plenty of researchers are working on developing a cure as well as prophylactic treatments that can be given to prevent contraction of the virus itself, nothing concrete has been found as of yet.
Of course, another one and a half years is an impossibly long time to be on lockdown – the social, political and economic ramifications will be the likes of that which the world has never seen before. Regardless, while lockdowns will be lifted before a vaccine is found, social distancing will still be necessary so as to limit the damage this virus can do to society.
Remote work is the solution for businesses during this period and the months to come – and these initial few months have certainly proved that it is possible.
Why remote work is the future of work
Now that people have settled into the routine of working from home, they’ll likely be reluctant to give up this flexibility and return to the office every Monday through Friday. The time saved on commutes can be spent on managing the household, hobbies, or other such activities and people will soon realize that working remotely has many benefits for them. For more information on how remote or flexible work arrangements can benefit both employers og employees, check out the two linked articles.
This is not to say that the work model will be shifted to one that is entirely comprised of remote work, but rather, that flexible work arrangements will soon become the norm. Due to the nature of COVID-19, daily life will take a long time to go back to “normal” and may never return to the way it was.
The coronavirus certainly forced businesses’ hands in pushing remote work arrangements forward, however, they have been proven to be successful and run much smoother than expected. Employers are starting to learn that they can trust their employees to be productive even when they are not working from the office, and they can also save money on office rental, wifi, electricity, etc. Additionally, remote and flexible work arrangements support Business Continuity Plans as they enable businesses to function and continue operations despite external factors such as the coronavirus.
The next year at a glance
With COVID-19 still spreading fast, many people will likely take further steps to protect themselves from contracting this disease. For example, some people may want to move to the countryside or other more rural communities to avoid crowds and reduce their risk of falling sick. This makes remote work the only option for them.
Even those who continue to live in the city will likely want some sort of flexible work arrangement to allow them to avoid exposing themselves to the virus. For example, they may want to come into the office on fewer days, or shift their working hours so that they avoid the peak hours on public transport.
Businesses will also benefit from more flexibility in office lease terms, as some had to shut down their office entirely and may take some time to grow again after dealing with the economic repercussions of COVID-19.
Overall, it is impossible to predict what exactly will happen in the future. While there are several promising treatments and many researchers are working tirelessly to find a vaccine so that herd immunity can be ultimately achieved, no conclusive results have been obtained yet. This means that businesses need to be flexible in the way they work, so as to more easily accommodate problems that crop up. Employees will also want more flexibility in the way they work, so that they can reduce their risk of contracting this virus.
If you’re interested in learning more about remote and/or flexible work arrangements, contact us at FLYDESK and we’ll help you correctly implement them in your business.