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Future of remote working after Covid-19

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Are you wondering what the future of remote working after Covid-19 looks like?

Is it because you enjoy working remotely or from home but are worried it might end once the pandemic eases? Or, is it because you don’t enjoy it and want to know how soon this situation will end?

These two different concerns can be summarised as follows:

  1. People who want to continue working remote or from home, and;
  2. People who want to return to their old workplace. (Many in this group were compelled to work from home against their wishes).

 

We are now seeing new groups emerge – in large part due to the Pandemic Effect:

  • People that were against remote working but are now more in favour of it. At least in some measure.
  • Due to excess caused by Covid lockdowns, people who liked working remote or from home want to instead return to their traditional workplace – mainly for relief.
  • Many want a mix of working both remote in their workplace – the so-called hybrid option.

 

What is the Pandemic Effect?

 

On the negative side

Covid-19 has undermined the traditional virtues of remote working. It has distorted the perception of the benefits that once existed.

People who never wanted to work remote were forced to do so – mainly to keep their jobs. Others who worked remote on occasion now had to do so full-time.

Suppose you force people into something – even something that is possibly good. More often than not, they will rebel because they were forced into it. This can undermine good things, making them seem less good.

This negative effect has increased the number of people disillusioned with the idea of remote working.

 

On the positive side

For the first time, many people have tasted the ‘forbidden fruit’ of remote working or working from home – and they like it. They want it to continue, but ideally with more flexibility and options.

This positive effect has increased the number of people wanting to work remote.

And… this group is in the majority.

In other words, you can’t put the genie back in the bottle, despite the negatives of the Pandemic Effect.

 

wofome’s predictions about work-from-home future trends

The following graphic is a simplified view of what we think will happen to work-from-home after the pandemic has eased:

(Note: a Wofomer is a work-from-home-er)

 

Working remote is not suitable for all job roles

Many job roles cannot be done from remote. Like the rest of us, even this kind of worker had to stay home because of pandemic lockdowns, regardless of their ability to keep working. Many stopped working.

What kind of job roles are not suitable? Here are some examples:

  • Transportation – Drivers, Pilots etc.
  • Machine Operators
  • Shipping & Warehousing
  • Nursing and Home Carers
  • In-Store Retail Staff
  • On-Premise Food & Beverage Staff
  • Medical Procedures – Dentists, Surgeons etc.
  • Performers – Theatrical and Events

 

There are many more roles like this.

Some of these roles may have a base of operations from home, but the actual work must be performed elsewhere.

There is a good report from McKinsey on this. You can find it here.

 

Why wofome says remote working is here to stay, and certain to grow

Here’s why:

Organisations and workers that were previously unsure about the value of remote working now see it’s potential, albeit for differing reasons.

Governments, regulators and movements are seeing cost savings and environmental benefits. As a result, they are moving quickly to lock these benefits in.

Businesses, always adapting to improve profitability, are building out new remote working business models to boost new revenue streams and save on costs.

Digital providers are having a gold rush moment. The pandemic’s urgency has supercharged the development of new digital products designed to energise and rally remote-worker communities.

Changes in home-living circumstances, for those with families and those without, are creating new lifestyles which are upending traditional domestic routines, sometimes to the delight of all participants (kids included!).

 

These are the promised benefits.

What are the disadvantages?

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Existing businesses and individual lifestyles are being impacted by these changes. Many Wofomers* say they miss the good old days of venturing out to work – often just to get a break from life at home. What about you? Do you have any negative experiences?

We plan to collect negative feedback and write a follow-up post. Or hey… go crazy. Try your hand at writing an entire Guest Post on this topic.

 

Do organisations think working from home is here to stay?

Some organisations are against the practice of remote working.

Here’s one example:

David Solomon, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, unequivocally stated that he wants his people back at the office. Solomon, referring to the prevailing sentiment of working remotely, said, “I do think for a business like ours, which is an innovative, collaborative apprenticeship culture, this is not ideal for us. And it’s not a new normal. It’s an aberration that we’re going to correct as soon as possible.”

By Jack Kelly, Senior Contributor, Mar 19, 2021, Forbes.

View the online article here.

 

Other organisations are fully embracing the remote working movement. Often, these organisations are naturally future-looking and top-heavy with next-gen workers who are already adjusted to an all-digital world. It’s no surprise that technology companies are leading this charge.

Here is an example from the CEO of Dell Technologies.

 

What are the pushbacks to working remotely?

 

Command & Control

Some organisations still operate on a hierarchical (command & control) system. This model was popular from the 1950s to the 1990s (thereabouts). Some larger and older organisations still have archaic systems and processes that rely on their workers being in workspaces provide by the organisation – to keep their operations working. Managers in these situations want workers within eyesight – so they feel they are in control.

Those of us whose careers were forged in these work environments can sometimes struggle to understand and embrace why remote/digital working might be better. These older generations often experience uncertainty and upset when asked to work remote.

At wofome, we believe the following:

Those who embrace change – and acknowledge the future is where improvement occurs  – will accept remote working and working-from-home are here to stay and grow – as new ways to work.

 

Predominantly On-Site business model

Some organisations need a majority of workers on-site simply because there is no other way to do this kind of work. For example, think about a manufacturing company with manual workers, forklift drivers, paint shop workers, etc. We have listed examples like these further up in this post.

But – these companies still have a complement of workers that could work remote – such as office administration staff.

 

How can you secure the work choice you want?

Here are some tips to help you, no matter if you are for or against working from home. Pick the heading that best describes you.

 

I want to keep working remote or from home

If you have always worked remote or from home, and you are not beholden to an employer – then just carry on.

If you are currently working remote or from home (for an employer) but are worried this situation may end, take the following steps:

  • Try and find out if your employer is open to you continuing to work remotely. If you don’t ask or investigate, you may never know. First, make sure this approach will not diminish you in the eyes of your employer.
  • Do research on your job role and determine if it’s a role that is suitable to remote working (maybe it’s not).
  • Look for remote working trends of similar job roles in your local area and try to find out what other similar organisations are doing or permitting.
  • If you determine that your job role is generally suitable to remote work, but your employer is not open to this, check what recourse you have with any local work regulators or authorities. This last tip should only be followed as a last resort.

 

There are many online articles with titles like how to approach your manager to ask if you can keep working from home. If you are struggling to find these, please send us a message from our Contact Us page.

 

I want to return to my usual workplace

If your employer is permitting a return to work – then all is good. Make sure the return to work does not come with any new and unreasonable limitations. If it does, challenge those tactfully, constructively and within reason. Do your research on any previously existing conditions that no longer exist and if your employer is in their rights to change these conditions without first asking you.

If you want to return to work but your employer is no longer offering this option, you need to think about your future.

  • First, try hard to renegotiate with your existing employer. You may be surprised – they make an allowance for you.
  • Second, if you have a contract of employment, check it to see if there are any mentions of your place of work. If your contract does not state that you must work remote or that your expected workplace is actually at your usual place of work, you should point this out.

 

Some employers were forced to drastically reduce their real estate footprint during the pandemic – to minimise costs. Others have switched to shared workspaces. Many are trialling a hybrid model. The current situation is fluid and still evolving.

 

I want to be a Hybrid – working remote some days and at my workplace other days

Many employers are now embracing a hybrid work option, thanks to the pandemic. If your employer offers this, are its conditions and options suitable for you?

If your employer is not offering a hybrid option, ask why not – but first, ensure your job role is suitable to remote working (some are not).

Some workers are pushing back on employers who are not offering flexible work options. Envoy.com says:

A recent survey we conducted with Wakefield Research shows that almost half of employees (47%) would likely look for a job if their employer didn’t offer flexible work opportunities. See the article here.

 

To sum up;

  • We are convinced that remote working and working from home are here to stay and sure to grow and diversify.
  • Not all job roles are suitable for a remote working option.
  • If you are not getting the option you want – but believe it should be available to you – do research, take action and seek recourse where appropriate.
  • Let us know about your situation. Other readers may have similar experiences and some good pointers.

 

A final note from the team…

At wofome we are an evolving a work-in-progress. So is Remote Working. Our aim is to help make Remote Working a success for you or your organisation. Help us help you (and others).

The more we learn from each other – the better Remote Working will become for everyone. If you are currently involved in Remote Working, you are already a Remote Working expert in your own right.

If you are interested in writing a Guest Post for wofome, please go to the Guest Post area.

Thank you
Your wofome team

 

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