The office and the future of remote work

What will business look like after the pandemic? Will we continue to work from home, full time? Part time? Are the days of corporate office spaces and cubicles over?

There are variations on these predictions. And the pandemic has inadvertently made remote work more achievable and normalized it. Some people report working longer hours because they are home, and don’t have a hard and fast beginning and end to their workspace or day. Others likely don’t miss a long commute.

Chris Herd, founder and CEO of Firstbase, helps companies go office-less, managing the supply, equipment business owners need to set up for remote work. Over the past nine months, he has asked people about remote work, and posted some predictions about the workplace that is “likely to emerge before 2030”. Here’s some of what his survey uncovered:

Rural living will become more appealing—people will move to smaller cities, live for lower costs, lead a higher quality of life in smaller communities.

Other common ground included “offices are instantaneous gratification distraction factories where synchronous work makes it impossible to get stuff done.” Herd concludes that “Tools that enable asynchronous work are the most important thing globally remote teams need.”

He also discovered consensus on the uptake of hobbies, which will lead people to get out into their communities more, and able to overcome societal isolation and loneliness, not to mention garner more meaningful relationships.

On the desire to continue remote work, the BBC’s Worklife posted that “55% of US workers want a mixture of home and office working. In the UK, employers expect the proportion of regular home workers to double, from 18% to 37%, and in China, employment expert, Alicia Tung has predicted that in 10 years’ time, there will be a 60/40 split of onsite/remote work.”

This hybrid way of working means people will have the flexibility to choose working in-house and at-home. This hybrid nature of work, doesn’t only include some flexibility on where people will be doing their work, but when, as some companies have global offices and giving workers a chance to work on different schedules.

Steward Butterfield, CEO and co-founder of Slack says of this time, it’s a chance to step away from the office-centric way of doing things. No leader wants status quo—they are always looking for ways to improve their operations. “There’s an opportunity to retain the best parts of office culture while freeing ourselves from bad habits and inefficient processes, from ineffective meetings to unnecessary bureaucracy.”

Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?

Melinda Gates, Elisabeth Reynolds and Indril Roy have more to say here on post-pandemic work life.

Whether some of our remote work ways carry over when this pandemic is over, in many ways, it feels like this level of work versatility is what we have all been waiting for, for a long, long time.


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