Currently, the spread of coronavirus has forces major economies under lockdown, halting several businesses. A significant number of workers have been forced to work from home. However, according to a new survey by Gartner, many such workers might find themselves permanently working from home because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Technology has revolutionized at unprecedented rates and even today it is moving at a lightning pace, only to broaden our horizons and bringing us closer than ever before. It is playing an invaluable role in the fight against coronavirus while keeping economies running.
Gartner released results from a March 30 survey which found that 74% of 317 CFOs and business finance leaders surveyed expected that at least 5% of their workforce will be permanently work-from-home employees after the pandemic ends.
Furthermore, according to Gartner, around 25% surveyed expect 10% employees to remain remote, 17% expect 20% to remain remote, 4% expect 50%, and 2% expect over 50% of employees now working from home to permanently work from home even after the pandemic subsides. This survey came as the U.S. government imposed lockdown rule to keep nonessential employees away from offices and visiting customers to promote social distancing.
Evolution of Work from Home
The concept of a 9 to 5 workday started during the industrial revolution. In years to come, the advent of information technology and the internet brought the freedom to work anytime and anywhere. People could collaborate with other people from all over the globe. Despite the freedom, WFH was still considered a part-time career to earn extra money.
Samantha Lambert, director of human resources at Blue Fountain Media, said that ten years before, remote employment basically meant a telemarketing or customer service position for a below minimum wage and rarely connected with a full-time career. Today, freelancing has become a full-time career choice as people have access to digital marketplaces, For example, Upwork connects nearly 3.6 million clients with more than 9 million freelancers from 180 countries.
Today, the technology around networking and security is in a position to help clients switch to a larger permanent work-from-home employee base.
Why Work from Home Is a Win-Win
In some regions, there has been a considerable decrease in coronavirus cases, leading them to decide the opening of their economy. However, in the wake of this pandemic, there is a dire need for such economies to continue to maintain vigilance because any lapse in focus leads to the relapse. It has become important for us to quickly detect and effectively isolate. Thus, people who can work from home should do so for the foreseeable future.
People that are working from home decrease the chances of the spread of the virus while effectively keeping up the company’s productivity pace. It also benefits them as they can effectively maintain a work-life balance and lead lesser stressful lives. Furthermore, WFH adds several other health advantages such as the need to commute is reduced. It decreases fatigue and home workers take fewer sick leaves than office workers.
For sectors such as manufacturing where WFH is not an option, companies will need to place safe working environment measures such as social distancing, using technology for contact tracing, and others.
Today, WFH is not only benefit employees but employers as well. They can improve several aspected of businesses such as employee retention as they don’t have an otherwise long daily commute, access to a wider pool of applicants such as those from more geographically remote areas, possible productivity gains due to fewer interruptions, convenience to locate sales staff near clients, and others.
Moreover, employers can save a lot of money on office infrastructure, technology, and supplies while having greater flexibility to the employees. All these factors can help save businesses their valuable time and energy in recruiting, interviewing, and hiring new employees.
According to an infographic by Hubspot, in the U.S, as much as $37 billion is annually wasted in business meetings. There are also several argue that meetings do not encourage innovation and curb creativity as one or two voices stand out. Studies have shown that people working from home are more productive and innovative. This shift can prove to be beneficial for the employee, business, economy, and government as well. The availability of interactive tools can help employees collaborate and become closer than ever.
Additionally, this change in workplace structure will have a positive impact on the women workforce. There are more benefits of such a shift to economies such as cost-saving on infrastructure for businesses, commute cost savings of employees, and several other savings that will, in turn, benefit the economy. This will also help them to step into digitalization and invest more in satisfying tech needs.
Work from Home may Not Entirely Replace Offices
In some of the previous studies and real-life strategies, when employees were given the option to work from home four days a week they were more satisfied and productive. However, by the end, half of them wished to get back as they felt lonely due to a lack of interactions with the coworkers face-to-face.
Nevertheless, without a proper IT infrastructure in place, businesses still have a long way to go for an expanded permanent work-from-home workforce. Such employees will need more support as there will be a lot of changes in IT. To fully change companies will have to rethink their IT strategies. They might even need to help employees get home office setups similar to the offices such as a computer, monitors, and good internet connectivity.
In the current situation, most home offices are not equipped for permanent work from home. Many people are working on kitchen tables with children running in the background. There is some major issue relating to security and privacy. Furthermore, there will also remain jobs that can be carried out from home. Until there is automation for such jobs people will need to go to offices.
The Future of Work from Home
Coronavirus has shaken the foundation of the strongest of businesses with great IT infrastructure. However, there are no proper home offices that are equipped for permanent work from home. However, as with the ongoing pandemic more and more organizations as well as employees are opting to work from home or looking for jobs that provide this facility is on the rise. However, this does not mean that conventional brick-and-mortar offices will cease to exist.
Many other concerns need to be addressed based on the industry or sector that can afford to do that. Some may believe that freelancing or remote working will be implemented 100%, it remains to be seen how soon it can become a reality.