More than a year has passed since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 as a pandemic. A lot of people had to adapt their daily activities to fit long lasting lockdowns. While some companies used to offer the ability to work from home as a perk, it has now become the norm for most business.
Remote work expected to double from 2020
According to Reuters, the number of workers that will be permanently working from home is expected to double in 2021, as productivity has increased during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a survey from U.S.-based Enterprise Technology Research (ETR).
The CIOs also showed and increased optimism about business prospects in 2021, as they see an increase in tech budgets by over 2%. The ETR results show that information decision-makers expect permanent remote work to double to 34.4% of their companies’ workforce in 2021 as result of a positive productivity trend that they notice after the coronavirus outbreak.
Remote work has a vast array of challenges and problems for employees and employers. For example, employers are facing problems such as deliver remote coaching, supervision, and engagement with the employees. On the other hand, employees are trying to find the correct balance between home and work and readapt a specific space of their home for working purposes.
The potential of working remotely depends on the mix of activities associated to each occupation and their physical, spatial, and interpersonal context. That means that remote work is not for everyone because those that require use of fixed equipment, operating machinery, using lab equipment and customer service at Points of Sale (POS) cannot be done remotely.
Quality vs remote work
Employees have found that although some tasks can be done remotely, they are much more effectively done in person. Especially those activities that require physical or close contact with other people such as courses, coaching, therapy, negotiations, training and work that benefits from collaborations such as innovation and creativity.
A clear example is the online training trend that exploded during the coronavirus outbreak, while gyms were closed to avoid contact, a lot of personal trainers and gyms launch digital programs for their users. The issue is that in live sessions though digital platforms like Zoom, Google Meet or social networks it became difficult for them to catch common mistakes of their users, like bad positions, overloads and exercises that increase the potential risk of injuries. This resulted in an increase of dropout rates and user interest.
The increasing importance of cybersecurity
In companies and industries that are suitable for remote work, cybersecurity will become a priority in 2021. For example in Cisco’s Future of Secure Remote Work Report, 85% of all respondents reported that cybersecurity is extremely important or more important than before the pandemic.
The shift to remote work forced a lot of business to start investing in IT systems and more infrastructure to keep their data safe and avoid information leaks.
The hybrid model Approach
McKinsey survey of 800 corporate executives around the world about their vision for post pandemic workforce, 38% of respondents expect their remote employees to work two or more days a week away from the office and 19% said three or more days. This suggests a hybrid model where employees can work three or more days remotely and from an office during the week.
For these reasons, we can conclude that the permanence of remote work will depend on the type of industry and the adoption of remote work across companies and countries that create good enough working from home policies that suits business needs and employee’s productivity.