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Is Working From Home The New Normal?

The future of remote work is here!

We’ve transitioned our work locations from centralized offices to our homes due to COVID-19. Our employers learned that a centralized office location is no longer proper in light of COVID-19. Following government guidelines to prevent the virus from spreading, human resource departments quickly approved new work policies, which allowed us to work from home more readily. Working remotely does prevent the virus from spreading. Even essential employees who cannot stay home to work receive a health benefit from remote workers because there are fewer bodies in the office to spread the disease.

Augmented Reality Workstation Concept

Technology handles the gaps that prevented telecommuting from widespread acceptance previously. For example, online connectivity tools allow face-to-face meetings over the internet as well as document sharing and editing. The new flexibility to work remotely allows us to connect to our projects, colleagues and clients from home or from a vacation spot, like a beach house, as the new normal.

“We’ve learned over the past year that good work can get done anywhere” – Mark Zuckerberg

Source: Nasdaq

This new working environment also allows supervisors and managers to check our productivity through online messaging and by capturing remote worker’s screens in real-time. Management is asked to check off-site work productivity closely and to report when they see any drops in productivity. Management then works together to understand our productivity decline, such as illness or other issues.

Good news for workers though is that we are becoming more productive by telecommuting. No longer do we live or die by the alarm clock, which was used to wake us up early enough to get ready to leave for the long harrowing commute into the office. Nowadays, we transition from the bedroom to our home office workspace in a few minutes. We can work from our patios or from our favorite park with internet connectivity.

Man looking in washing machine.

We no longer have the stress to dress for success since we can work in casual leisure clothes (some of us even stay in our pajamas) unless, of course, we have a video conference to attend. No longer do we worry about our hair and make-up and manicured nails because we do not have anyone to impress at home. We are also healthier since we are not exposed to other viruses which cause colds and other respiratory illnesses.

Employers realize the flexibility that they offer employees, who report higher job satisfaction and an improved quality of living, is a big plus for employee retention. Employees can work without distractions from the open office workplaces that were trendy until COVID hit.

“Even if remote work turns out to be less productive on some metrics than others, reducing carbon-based emissions or the improving work-life balance could make up for it.” –Mark W. Johnson and Josh Suskewicz,

Source: Harvard Business Review 

The environment also wins because fewer carbon emissions are released into the atmosphere when less time is spent in traffic commuting to the office. Even business trips are thought less essential to support clients since telecommuting became the norm. Reimbursements to employees for business expenses have also dropped significantly since the pandemic.

The future of remote work continues to evolve as our employers consider downsizing, and cost-cutting measures due to a slower economy. They are using remote freelancers to fill open positions. Companies are off-shoring positions to freelancers since remote work is technologically possible anywhere in the world. Off-shoring these positions to freelancers help companies lower headcount costs. Workers in many countries around the world, such as India and Poland, benefit from increased living wages and benefits. These workers are highly educated and motivated to accept well-paying remote jobs from the United States.

Man frustrated after bad news.

Telecommuting isn’t always a plus. The flexibility to work around family schedules and priorities places the burden on us to still meet our work deadlines. Losing the formality of an office work location for a home work location makes us more accessible to our family but also allows our family to more easily interrupt us during our work day. Workplace relationships, particularly mentoring, may suffer as working remotely becomes more widely practiced because communication misunderstandings are more frequent when working remotely. It is difficult for new employees to understand a short message without the underlying issues explained.

“Success in a hybrid work environment requires employers to move beyond viewing remote or hybrid environments as a temporary or short-term strategy and to treat it as an opportunity.” – George Penn

VP at Gartner

A physical presence in a shared work location still has a place, particularly with new employees. However, the time wasted on office politics, ignoring loud co-workers chatting in the hallways, not attending those too-long meetings and side-stepping idle office chatter are great positives for telecommuting!

In summary, working off-site is here to stay. Working remotely is now mainstream. There are more opportunities for working remotely than ever before. With increased productivity gains, companies are finding cost savings that were previously unimaginable. Employers and employees are enjoying the benefits of higher productivity, lower employer bottom-line costs and many health positives for ourselves and the environment. It is hard to believe that working in a brick-and-mortar location, with us stacked on top of each other, will be our only choice for working ever again.

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