By Elvis Eromosele
Anxiety about the future of work had hunted humans for aeons.
Conversation around working from home, creating work-life balance and using technology to promote remote work has festered for decades. The COVID-19 pandemic has now brought everything home.
The pandemic not only disrupted human existence but has nudged work onto a new direction; the direction many had been wary of exploring. Today, virtual and remote has suddenly become the norm. The feared digital transformation of work has finally arrived faster than ever anticipated, thanks to COVID-19.
Remote working is way passed the buzz word stage. Experts are now calling it the future of work. The vast majority of leaders predict that remote working will remain the new normal post COVID-19.
Remote work is described as the growing trend of employees who don’t walk into a traditional office each weekday morning, instead opting to work remotely part- or full-time from home, abroad, or a well-designed co-working space in the name of flexibility, technological progress, and productivity.
Essentially, remote work is work done outside the boundaries of the traditional office environment. It is about employees successfully executing daily tasks, projects and collaborating with co-workers without commuting to an office each day.
The growth and adoption of remote work have incredible, numerous and far-reaching implications. It is the beginning of a new era of work.
Here are five possible outcomes of this shift in work culture:
Growth of Workspaces: The prevalent thinking is that as the world shifts towards more remote working, companies would question the wisdom of huge and expensive office spaces. It is likely that small and functional would become the norm. Reports indicate that not everyone would work from home. It might just be a case of locating a co-working space that reduces the commute time.
Co-working spaces are essentially shared workspaces. They offer affordable office space for those looking to escape the isolation of a home office or coffee shop. A major advantage of co-working spaces is the ability to rent out only what is required and for the desired work-hours.
The news report indicates that Mastercard is considering consolidating some of its offices while Facebook is also looking at setting up working “hubs” across the US.
Workspaces will continue to grow like muscles on steroid. More investment, guaranteed power and internet service will make them thrive
Increased Use of Technology: As more firms explore the work from home function, investment in aided technology and broadband internet to drive connectivity is expected to rise. Video conferencing platforms such as Zoom, Cisco’s Webex, Microsoft Team and Google Meet among others are already scaling up rapidly and gaining traction.
Firms would also need to invest in technology to monitor and ensure that employees work the required number of hours.
Work-life Balance: This was like the proverbial pie in the sky before COVID-19 struck. Now, with some many people working from home, it is looking more than a likely possibility.
In the light of the COVID-19 lockdowns across the world, employees are setting up workspaces at home and showing improved productivity contrary to fears. It is almost as if employees can now manage their work and stay in touch with family.
Remote work means employees can finally strive to get that balance – work-life-balance. With the elimination of commute time, this is finally looking a real possibility.
The concern, however, is that for many, remote work may gradually move from working at home to living at work.
New Businesses: New opportunities, new businesses and start-ups dedicated to serving the work from the home clan are beginning to emerge. This is a good thing.
Mobile applications and tools to make working from home more productive will spring up and grow rapidly. It would be a whole new world indeed.
Psychological Impact: Today, many are still afraid of resuming at work. The pandemic scare will take a while to fade. Besides, lots of firms have had to downsize and let employees go. So, anxiety about job security remains.
Counselling would be required here to help people cope with job losses, family time.
One thing is clear; it is never going to be business as usual, ever again. The firms that would thrive in this world are those that understand that employee welfare and well-being are the ingredients for sustainable success.
Welcome to the future of work!
Elvis Eromosele, a Corporate Communication professional and public affairs analyst lives in Lagos.