• Vinay Nair

Future of work has changed, its anywhere, anytime

There has been a radical shift in the workplace environment and the efficiency of a workforce, this year.


If someone had suggested a year ago that most of their workforce can work from home and maintain their full potential and productivity, they would either be laughed at, or would have to face the consequences of supplying ‘far-fetched’ ideas to others!


But there has been a mammoth shift in what was considered normal a year ago, and what is considered normal now.


The situation right now...

Coronavirus pandemic has brought the world almost to a stop.


With healthcare systems collapsing around the world, people are being forced to stay at home, maintain social distancing norms and avoid crowds. The pandemic has managed to create this ‘new normal’ where working remotely and online connectivity are proving to be the only way to continue work.


As a result of this, people are gradually realising that both entertainment and work can be done to a large extent from the comfort of one's home and the pandemic has proved to be a catalyst towards realising this convenient setup or change.


Is remote working a new concept?

Percent of employed persons working at home and at their workplace by sex, full and part-time status, jobholding status, class of worker, and educational attainment 2010 annual averages.


It's not like people were not aware of how remote working functioned


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 16% of the total American workforce can now work remotely even if on a part time basis.


In a recent report it was said that between the years 2005 and 2017, there has been a 159% rise in the number of U.S. employees who telecommute. 


But there has also been a very palpable air of apprehension about it.


Up until the coronavirus forced everyone to stay indoors and maintain social distancing norms, the general  idea about working from anywhere was that unless employees were kept under regular surveillance, the work would not get done.


What has now happened, as a result of the pandemic is that people have been forced to embrace remote working in as many sectors possible. As a natural consequence to this, the infrastructure that supports remote working has also gotten a lot better very rapidly. Online workspaces and meeting spaces are springing up in quick succession. There are various ways in which companies are handling this.


Some companies have started offering various co-working tools and services. Google Hangouts Meet underwent a quick transformation in to Google Meet, an online video conferencing service. We have also seen the rise of platforms like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Hubspot and the likes, who are offering several free services to assist the millions of people working remotely.


Many big businesses and companies have declared that a significant percentage of their workforces are doing it remotely, and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future.


 Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey in an official statement said,

If our employees are in a role and situation that enables them to work from home and they want to continue to do so forever, we will make that happen.

Is there a veritable shift?


Some sectors which involve factories and warehouses and distribution channels have been hit really bad due to the virus and the subsequent restrictions imposed in various extents all across the world. But most companies have had to make a mandatory shift to remote working wherever logistically possible. Schools across the globe have shifted to online classes, and meetings whether corporate or otherwise are being held on video-conferencing platforms.  Many employees who up until this point had been unsure of how work-from-home or remote working functioned, have been kind of shoved into this worldwide remote-working experience. This has also been forcing them to adapt to demands of the time, and figure out how the online infrastructure works.


The BPO or tech industries for example, has had to adapt very rapidly to virtual contact centres and digital communications in order to sustain themselves. Covid has shown that it can be done, and most employees are getting comfortable with the digital technology.


There are many aspects to this big shift in the mode of operations of a company. Employees now have more flexible timings and can avoid often tiring and long commutes to their workplaces. Other than the fact that this is reducing the carbon footprint by a huge margin, it also conserves time. It also can be an opportunity for an employee to foster a better balance between their professional and personal lives. Remote workers, who enjoy a lot more flexibility and autonomy, perform better. This of course, in turn fosters innovation, which usually is one of the most important driving forces of any company. This rise in the popularity of this concept of being able to work from anywhere is found to lead to a shrinkage or remodelling of co-working spaces. This arrangement also manages to considerably lessen overhead operational costs. It is fair to predict that there will be a boom in demand in the freelance market,  and this is bound to support an open talent economy, where an organization’s boundaries can be stretched further.


According to the Future of Work survey done by Crain, it was said that

78% of the respondents find flexible schedules and telecommuting to be a more effective non monetary ways to retain employees.

This data was at 67% last year, and has grown since.


Remote working can come with certain challenges, which however are not insurmountable. It is important to have a plan of work in mind, and take care in achieving the goals that are set, while ensuring that they don't overwork themselves.


Assigning a time and a proper place for a work slightly beforehand helps in centering or focusing on the work at hand. If conducted responsibly, remote work can be very rewarding. The pandemic has forced us to embrace this. But now that we have, and now that a proper digital ecosystem and infrastructure is also developing to support remote work, it might not be just a phase born out of necessity but something that endures the test of time.

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