The Future of What Office Work Looks Like Post-Pandemic
Navigating the remote working environment has been a difficult transition for many people. Previously, there was a relatively distinct split between work life at the office and personal life at home. Since 2020, these worlds have collided and are seemingly here to stay as one, reshaping the way we work and live even post-pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic
caused significant disruption to businesses with sudden short-term consequences, including the loss of jobs across the world. But it also caused a progressive shift towards the digitalisation and globalisation of the workforce, with millions of people rapidly adjusting to working from home.
"Remote management", which employers once dreaded, has now amplified our dependency on technology, removed us from our physical work locations, and has changed the way we measure productivity. So, what does this mean for office work and society moving forward?
Here are 5 (Important) Ways Remote Working is Remaking Our Lives
- Working from home is no longer a perk; it's a requirement
While 2020 may have been considered the year of remote work, it was just the beginning of a new era of work entirely. Even post-pandemic, people will continue to work from home, and by 2025, an estimated 70% of the workforce will be working remotely at least five days a month.
"One of the few great upsides of the pandemic is we've accelerated 25 years of drift toward working from home in one year,"states Stanford University Professor Nicholas Bloom, who studies remote work.
Remote working has provided many surprising benefits for both employers and employees. Employees feel less stressed and more productive, while employers have seen a future that is less tied down by expensive office real estate. In these circumstances, the benefits outweigh any adverse effects of working from the confines of your home.
- The office will play a different role in people's work
While many companies are downsizing their office spaces, most are not getting rid of them entirely. The office will no longer be a place of work from 9 to 5 but rather a space geared toward collaborative work that's more challenging to do at home. Moving forward, companies will need to redesign offices into shared spaces that accommodate less frequent personal use and more collaboration.
Kate Lister, president of future of work consulting firm Global Workplace Analytics, expects a greater emphasis on creating shared spaces. Instead of designing offices with 80 percent personal space and 20 percent shared space, 80 percent of office space will become collaborative, and 20 percent will be dedicated to personal use.
- Expect asynchronous communication
Being out of the office means the days of walking up to your boss or co-worker to ask a question are over. Instead, software like Zoom and Microsoft Teams will become the most 'face-to-face' contact you'll have with your colleagues, followed by overly-polite emails and WhatsApp messages.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially when your team is spread out across the globe. Instead, in-person chats and video calls can happen at people's leisure through messaging, voice notes, and recorded videos. This way, people can concentrate better than they would in the office while accommodating the realities of working from home.
- Our productivity will be measured differently
Productivity levels and measuring productivity have traditionally been significant challenges for companies with employees working from home. Previously, productivity was measured by metrics like aptitude, attitude, and attendance. Without considering those factors daily, productivity is measured more by the quality and output of the work you produce.
According to collective research, remote workers are 47% more productive than employees working in office. Improved productivity levels result from reduced commute time and fewer distractions from co-workers, allowing employees to spend more time focusing on and completing their tasks.
- Company culture will become more difficult to create
In today's modern work environment, company culture is vital. Although remote working has been great for productivity, it has made it more challenging to create or retain a company culture when employees aren't in the same room or even the same building.
At the beginning of the pandemic, communication seemed more manageable than ever, with people reaching out and checking in at all times. The camaraderie was high as we all tried to navigate this new normal together. But with the realisation that remote working is here to stay, companies will need to find new ways to cultivate a (virtual) environment of productivity that brings teams together, even if everyone is scattered around the globe.
From being removed from our physical work locations to an amplified dependency on technology, remote working is remaking our lives and will continue to reshape how we work, communicate, and live for years to come post-pandemic.