The Dawn of a New Era: The Future of Work

Another year has come and gone and 2020 was certainly a year like no other in modern times. The unexpected onslaught of Covid-19 hit us with no mercy and It’s pretty clear that the pandemic has had a paralyzing impact on most of society around the world.  For many, the past year was a year of worry, concern and uncertainty that brought about forced change in many areas of our lives.  We were perhaps unprepared, both mentally and physically, for the disruption of life that Covid has brought to our world. It’s likely safe to say that no one has hesitated to kick 2020 out the door. Perhaps it can be argued that life as we knew it before Covid could remain a memory, rather than being a return to reality. Undoubtedly, there will be some elements of life that will be changed forever.  Will our societal interactions remain less engaging? Do we really need to be physically present to be productive in our usual work environments versus performing our job duties virtually? One thing is obvious, many of us have been forced to change the way we work, but is that necessarily a bad thing?  What is the future of work in this new age? Remote working is not a new concept:  over the past 15 years, the virtual work trend has been accelerating.  With the rise of rapidly advancing technologies, the untethered lifestyle has become increasingly feasible to sustain a productive model of work.  Data provided by Global Workplace Analytics has shown that, even before Covid, the virtual work model had increased by 173% from 2005 to 2018. Enter the Covid pandemic.  Suddenly businesses are forced to utilize virtual workers for a great percentage of its’ operations, develop a deeper trust-based relationship and culture with their employees or contractors, adapt to a new way of monitoring productivity, manage workers, and efficiently streamline operations.  Covid-19 has spawned what has been the largest, unintentional experiment of virtual working the world has ever seen. And what result has this experiment shown regarding productivity and benefits to both businesses and workers?  The results may be surprising to some people. With a digitally connected world, the virtual workforce will be commonplace. Gartner, a global research and advisory firm, conducted a 2020 survey among 127 leaders in a variety of business sectors that resulted in almost half of the respondents stating they foresee allowing employees to continue to work virtually moving forward.  Additionally, Global Workplace Analytics conducted an international survey that reports 82% of US workers and 76% of global workers would like to remain working virtually after the pandemic subsides. The virtual work movement does not come without its benefits for businesses.  Implementing virtual workers saves on company rent and utilities, cleaning services and tax burdens. Other positives include improved employee retention and reduction in employee absenteeism.  Gallup research reports that managers are seeing the benefits of having employees work virtually and the majority of those surveyed (52%) stated they will allow their employees to continue to work on a virtual basis after the Covid crisis. With an uptick in productivity, reduced costs and already having invested a great amount of time and effort in adopting a flexible and virtual work model to wade through the current crisis, perhaps there is little incentive for companies to completely return to the in-office work model on a full-time and at capacity basis. Covid has shown that many people can easily work from home relying on technology for effective communication between their clients, colleagues, and managers.  There is a more efficient way of conducting business operations for both the employees and the businesses themselves. Our world is not the same as it was before Covid and this pandemic has changed the face of the future workplace.  Many sectors of business have been given an accelerated push into a work environment that was already beginning to gain traction amongst business anyway. The future of work has launched into a work environment that is untethered, truly virtually connected, productive and for the betterment of both employee and employer.

Have you, or your employees, been working remotely during the pandemic?  What has been your experience?  Would you want to continue a virtual workplace in the future?

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