A work revolution has been a long time coming, but who would have thought it would take a pandemic to finally usher it in.
As the fear of COVID-19 grips one nation after another, and cases spread like wild-fire, more and more companies globally are adopting a work-from-home policy to ensure social distancing and curb the spreading of the virus.
In the UK, banks such as Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Barclays are moving
trading facilities to workers homes, in the US, companies including Amazon, LinkedIn, Microsoft and Google have pushed
for their workers to stop coming in the office, Twitter making work-from-home compulsory last week Wednesday.
Though this work-from-home push results from a crisis, more and more are believing it will stick around when normality slowly returns.
Even before coronavirus panic hit, remote working was growing in popularity. Research conducted
by the International Workforce Group (IWG) polled 150,000 people across 80 countries in 2019 and found that remote working was not only the “new normal” but was a deal breaker for many. 83% of those involved said that, faced with two similar job options, they would turn down the one that disallowed remote working.
Indeed, working from home has far greater benefits than just stopping the spread of the scariest virus the world has seen (which is a pretty great benefit). It also promotes far lower infrastructure costs, curbs negative impacts on the environment, and increases worker satisfaction and productivity- all giving both employer and employee a greater competitive advantage.
Gone is the eye-roll that comes after a three-hour meeting that could have been an email.
Since the start of the COVID 19’s push to remote work, stories have flooded in of the benefits that had been discovered, from a One City executive whose two-day meeting in Asia turned into
a one-day video call and the employee whose days now include
tossing in a load of laundry during a work break or combining her lunch hour with a yoga stretch to decrease anxiety. It is also pushing those technophobe colleagues to come face to face with their fear and embrace the age of remote working with conference calls and digital diaries.
For those companies
that offer remote working tools, this is their time to shine. Slack, a business chat software, has stated that they are “fully prepared for the situation”
and have given out free resources like consultations for companies adapting to remote work for the first time. Microsoft is offering its cloud “productivity suite” for free to small business for six months, Google followed this path with its own business subscription, while Zoom , a videoconferencing service, has extended its free tier by allowing conversations to go longer than 40 minutes.
There is no doubt that it is a worrisome and stressful time. Illness is spreading, and the world is still trying to grasp this huge change of lifestyle with social distancing and self-quarantine, our main weapons for combating mass illness and hospital inundation.
But when this cloud of uncertainty is finally lifted, be it in a week, a month, or a year, it is highly unlikely those that have gotten used to working from home and understand that it is not only possible, but beneficial, will be ready to return to the workplace.
And if they don’t, is it the worst thing? A new era has dawned, we have the technology, we have the desire, and we have the proven benefits, working remotely is here to stay.
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