With containment of COVID-19 being our global priority for 2020, one of the key themes to have emerged from the pandemic is the collective encouragement by governments for their citizens to work from home (WFH) wherever possible.
This has been integral in stopping the spread of coronavirus which can survive on surfaces for up to 14 days, whilst maintaining economies to the best of their abilities through the challenging times.
For professional service workers this has been possible, but the flipside of doing so has been the mass reduction of foot traffic within business districts. Subsequently, this has severely impacted the livelihoods of cafe and restaurant owners that are dependent on office workers.
So with this mass WFH trial underway in major cities around the world, the question has to be asked – could working from home become the norm after the coronavirus pandemic ends?
For the majority of business workers, WFH has only become possible due to organisations being forced to adopt new processes, install new software and undertake new security measures which would allow their employees to do so.
Where working from home had previously been conducted by those with children, long commutes to work, or daily work travel requirements, office dwellers have often queried the productivity of their comfort-dwelling counterparts.
But with this sudden shift in workplace interaction making WFH the norm during the coronavirus outbreak, we have unintentionally amassed highly valuable data for businesses to assess how productive their employees and business have been when team members have worked from home.
For those which are able to maintain their daily operations, companies will be much more open to their employees working from home in the future. This would potentially see a notable drop of in-office staff if productive employees transition to 1 or 2 days of working from home going forward, whilst also going a long way towards businesses improving the work-life balance of their employees.
Further benefits will be realised if businesses are able to use the new data to reduce their commercial spaces knowing that at any one time, a portion of their workforce can do their jobs without the required office space. If so however, this could potentially put the commercial leasing space into a death spiral as periphery businesses which service office workers are no longer required.
Whether or not WFH does become the norm even if just a few days a week, the coronavirus pandemic has unintentionally shown employers how productive their staff can be without management looking over their shoulder, alongside a significant reduction of face-to-face meetings.
Once the hysteria subsides, the world will be more digitally connected than ever before enabling greater work-life balance, one of the key positive takeaways from the pandemic.