The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic really turned the world on its head. Despite the fact people have lost their jobs, businesses have been hurt, airlines are struggling and tourism has taken a nosedive, many of us have been fortunate enough to keep our jobs and work from home.
Many large tech companies have already announced permanent changes allowing employees to work from home indefinitely. Twitter, Square and Facebook being some of the biggest who have announced changes.
Some companies are clamouring to get their workers back into the office, despite the fact we have no COVID-19 vaccine yet and the outbreak is still ongoing. Even countries who have handled the outbreak better than most such as New Zealand and Australia are still playing a game of cat and mouse with the virus, dealing with outbreaks.
The reality is, even prior to the pandemic, most companies were already partially distributed. It’s possible you might not have even noticed or thought about it. But, even companies who had no work from home policies, they were already facilitating remote work.
It’s not uncommon for a CEO to be working from home, travelling and working, someone out working onsite with a customer (troubleshooting a problem or doing some training). And I am sure we are all guilty of checking work emails outside of work hours on our phones or computers.
The Office Isn’t Dead
For some, working from home isn’t an option. I know people who not only do not trust themselves working from home, but want to return to the office as soon as possible. Some people like the ritual of leaving the house and commuting to the office.
The concept of an office isn’t dead, offices will always exist. If you’re a company that has meetings with people outside of the company, partnerships, consultants and the like, you need an office to facilitate these meetings.
Even if you do work from home, chances are you’ll want to head into the office from time-to-time, even from a social catch up perspective. That is what the company I work for is doing, everyone might meet up every month or so and have a catch up day, have lunch together and maybe a little brainstorm session.
The Shift Has Been Happening For Years
The pandemic sped everything up, but many companies were already transitioning into remote work friendly workplaces. I know people who have been working from home since the 90’s.
Companies who fought working from home had their hands forced, it was either let your employees work from home or shut your business down. But, this battle extends beyond working constraints.
The reality is companies that fight remote work and expect their employees to return to the office without being given the option not too will lose out to companies that do. Remote work is not a perk, it’s an expectation now. Millennials are connected people, they don’t want to be confined to an office all of the time.
Remote work allows companies to hire from a wider talent pool, you are no longer constrained to your small region. If your company is based in a small city or in a place like Seattle or San Francisco where it can be impossible to find top talent, expanding beyond your own state or country can solve the problem.