After living and working through an unprecedented shift in the work paradigm, where are we now?
Truly a year of living dangerously, 2020, brought shock and awe in a brutal way that nobody could have foreseen. So as we gradually adapt or readapt to the business of business, where do we stand? Is remote working here to stay? What did we learn from the experience?
An impressive 83% of employers say the shift to remote work has been successful for their company, although few executives think company culture will survive a purely remote model. Many believe that by July of 2021, at least half of office staff will be back at work onsite.
After working from home for months, many employees, and even some employers embrace the flexibility of remote working. This growing trend points toward a hybrid workplace where a large number of office employees rotate in and out of offices configured for shared spaces.
It goes without saying that the early-career workers need the in-office experience more than others. After all, they have to understand and meld into the internal politics of the workplace. There are job learning curves to be overcome, as well as socialization and getting to know fellow workers.
That’s not to say organizing a hybrid workplace is easy. Organizing a work week with so many moving parts will no doubt transform a company’s culture and the way the work gets done. It will have an impact on employee engagement, and also affect how office space is used.
Over the next three years, while some executives expect to reduce office space, 56% expect to need more. These mixed findings show that some companies are planning to reinvest the remote work dividend in new ways in order to make working in the office more enticing.
As a result of many companies being forced to adapt to remote-work life, there are feasible reasons for workers to demand the continued flexibility, and they might be likely to get it. A revised awareness of how people work best, what’s important in life, and how they want to spend their time has changed the work paradigm.
Self-determination is sorely missing in the American work culture and by giving employees the freedom to choose without being forced to ask permission eliminates humiliation and adds self-confidence. In this way, having the choice to work remotely, even partially, is an employee benefit.
At this time American office workers have more leverage over their working conditions. A recent survey, revealed that over half of middle-income workers said they were considering switching jobs this year because flexible remote working was important to them. And if companies don’t want to spend money on replacing their in-office ranks, why not offer two days remote working each week?
At the other end of the scale are the office traditionalists. These are the people in charge who didn’t believe in remote work before the pandemic, and were not about to let something like a catastrophe global pandemic change their worldview.
But even these hardliners might be cajoled into acceptance this year if enough of their employees press the point. If you’re new to hybrid working and are trying to figure out what might work best for you, start your demands at three days in person, and two days remote. You’ll still be in the majority of the week, which might help a reluctant boss come around, but you’ll have enough flexibility to make a real difference in your work life.
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