“The only thing that is constant is change.”
– Heraclitus, Greek Philosopher, 535 BCE to 475 BCE
While change might be a hot topic of discussion since the arrival of the novel coronavirus, the above quote is a reminder that change is nothing new.
This pandemic may have forced us to face change more abruptly, and under more difficult circumstances, than we would like, but before COVID-19 we were constantly adapting to – and adopting – advances in technology that shaped the way we lived and worked.
Consider how flexible we’ve become since the pandemic. An outing to the grocery store looks completely different than it did at the beginning of March. We celebrate family milestones in new and creative ways. And work …
Let’s have a quick look at the before, during and after of work these days.
Prior to the pandemic, there was a growing desire to work remotely, but we weren’t quite there yet.
For many office-based workers, the idea of working from home was a dream (if you were an office-based worker, maybe it was even your dream).
Those already working remotely liked the idea, too. When 3,500 remote workers from around the world answered a pre-pandemic survey, 98 percent of them said they would like to work remotely at least some of the time for the rest of their careers.
Still, despite the appeal of the idea, and although many experts and industry leaders across the globe believed the age of remote work was on the horizon, it wasn’t a reality in many workplaces.
Then COVID-19 hit.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, up to half of American workers began working from home; more than double the number who worked from home in 2017 / 2018.
Even companies that had resisted remote work, or were unsure how to implement it, needed to pivot quickly, with around 31 percent of people saying COVID-19 was the trigger to begin allowing remote work at their company.
Which leads to the inevitable question of how we’ll work in the future …
Of course, if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that nobody knows for certain what will come next. However, when we combine the ongoing risks of returning to work, with the many benefits of remote work, and add in constant advances in technology, it seems likely remote work is here to stay, and could take precedence over in-office work.
Back to Normal vs. The New Normal
We at Pythian don’t have a crystal ball that works any better than anybody else’s. However, our daily work revolves around the technology required for collaboration and productivity in the workplace. We’ve seen firsthand the benefits of remote work, and the changes required to move forward post-pandemic. As a result, we’ve arrived at three predictions for the future of remote work:
1. Remote work will become the norm
Many organizations agree that “going back to normal” doesn’t exist. Instead, they’re looking ahead to create a new structure in the workplace that allows for social distancing and increased wellbeing. With employees now expecting more flexibility, employers will need to implement a virtual structure into their workplace to enable remote work.
2. Businesses will reconsider the need for physical office space
The average real estate savings with full-time remote work is $10,000 per employee, per year. That’s a large amount of money for any size business. After doing the math post-pandemic, many businesses will begin to reconsider whether having a physical office space is a continued necessity.
3. Leadership will invest more in tools and technology to promote virtual work
To ensure productivity and collaboration continue, businesses will need to invest in new tools and technology to promote virtual work. For example, employees will need direct access to the information and data required to do their work. They’ll also need simple ways to connect with other members of their team, share documents and more.
The next post in the “New Normal” series will look at tools to implement and embrace change. Spoiler Alert: We’ll be talking about Google Workspace!
In the meantime, please click here if you’d like to connect with a Pythian Google Workspace expert.