Summer is around the corner and many businesses and offices are reopening. We all thought that everyone would be anticipating a return to normalcy and itching to return to the office; so why are many workplaces still operating remotely? And can this model be sustained moving forward?
According to Upwork, 41.8% of American workers continue to work from home today, while 36.2 million Americans plan to continue working remotely indefinitely. That’s up 87% compared to pre-pandemic numbers! These are staggering figures that should not be ignored by employers. Let’s delve into a few (non-pandemic related) points that led to this huge uptick in remote working, and how employers can accommodate this shift.
Convenience is the reason
The most obvious reason is convenience. By now, we’ve adjusted to this new working arrangement, and all the complaints we had at the onset of the pandemic dealing with remote work have been resolved. Speaking from experience, working in an office and fighting 30 minutes of traffic each way, suddenly seems more inconvenient than getting up and starting work in your sweatpants.
Employers can capitalize on this remote work experience by sticking to schedules and keeping their teams organized. It is essential for any company; however, as the pandemic forced us into seclusion, project management tools began to emerge or became incredibly popular, such as Asana, Monday and, of course, Slack.
Teams across time zones
With record unemployment and layoffs this past year, many people resorted to the internet for job opportunities. This resulted in virtual teams forming around the country and employers with a huge swath of applicants to choose from. Opening the doors to cross-country collaboration has been hugely beneficial, and may continue to form in large numbers post-pandemic.
Many programs emerged during lockdown that helped to make it easier to assemble teams and sort out taxation processes virtually. With a strong hiring team laser focused on organizational skills, teams can thrive in different time zones.
Work from anywhere, literally
Air travel is on the rise again, giving virtual team members the ability to mix business with pleasure more freely. As long as this isn’t being abused, this may be a great way to boost morale and productivity. According to psychological studies, the effects of working from home can be detrimental to mental health — having the opportunity to work somewhere else can be a great way to combat malaise. Creating guidelines and a strict system may allow for a seamless “work from anywhere” model without compromising performance.
It looks like this new remote workforce is here to stay; entrepreneurship and technology is making this a seamless process. Some companies are selling their office spaces and putting money into project management software across industries. Utilizing these tools to integrate your team can be invaluable to employee morale, stakeholder satisfaction and a company’s bottom line. If you’re currently working remotely, or contemplating a fully virtual office, stay up-to-date with new and upcoming communication services — your team could be a part of the most dramatic work evolution in a generation.
Side note: On May 28, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued guidance that employers may require employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19 if returning to the workplace (with exceptions.)