This year, the speedy transition to remote and flexible work has been the dominant trend in workplaces around the world. Although this is far from a new trend, it has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of COVID-19 prevention protocols, nearly 90% of organizations worldwide implemented or encouraged remote work.
Scandinavia, the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, and The Netherlands are all examples of countries that adopted this trend more successfully. These countries had one thing in common: they already understood the key benefits of remote and flexible work arrangements.
The Benefits of Remote and Flexible Work
Workers feel more productive at home.
New work practices are based on the assumption that work isn’t tied to a specific location, but to results instead. Remote work and productivity are connected, as shown by a recent Stanford study covering a two-year period. Researchers compared productivity in two groups (remote workers and traditional office workers) and found that telecommuters had a productivity increase equivalent to an entire workday.
There are other positive effects linked to the elimination of the daily commute: staff have more time, more energy, and are in a better mood, so their motivation and ability to focus increase.
Businesses reduce costs
Making remote work more permanent and resorting to flexible office space when needed also benefits employers. The Stanford study mentioned above calculated average rent savings of $2,000 per employee and overall profitability increases were quoted at over 20%. Although there is an initial investment involved in setting up remote workstations or a virtual desktop environment, real estate savings make the transition worthwhile.
Moreover, remote work and flexible arrangements are seen to be profitable because companies can expand their recruiting and talent sourcing efforts beyond their immediate geographical area without incurring expensive relocation packages.
However, abandoning the office can have a detrimental effect on employee morale and cohesion. Face-to-face interaction with colleagues and bonding experiences in the office will undoubtedly be diminished due to the rise of remote work. Additionally, an eye-catching office in a central location can be a valuable marketing tool for a company if done correctly. Some offices are even translating their company logo into neon lights in a bid to stand out and attract clients.
Will Business Want to Go Back to Pre-COVID Working Conditions?
Some of the world’s largest corporations have stated that they plan on keeping remote and flexible work options until 2021, whereas others do not intend to bring the “old normal” back.
Before the pandemic hit, a growing number of businesses offered flexible working conditions as a perk. This suggests that a more open attitude toward flexible working practices was already there, however, whether this will become permanent is a matter of cultural fit. Organizational cultures that prioritize adaptation, collaboration, and teamwork are more likely to make remote arrangements permanent. Expect to see businesses explore a shift to small offices with flexible leases, particularly in locations with high rental rates, such as Hong Kong and Singapore.
Adopting remote-first practices is also a matter of resources. There is a large logistical effort involved in implementing remote work and, depending on company size, the costs of setting up an efficient system can be high. After all, the countries that have led the shift to remote and flexible work already had robust digital tech systems in place.
Remote Work: From Perk to Law?
After experiencing the advantages of working from home, many workers now prefer this arrangement, but others may not be so keen on it. Where does that leave employers? Developments such as the possible changes to German labor laws, in which the government is considering making remote work a basic employee right in reasonable situations, can be seen as a potential answer.
This suggests that remote work may go from being a perk offered in some workplaces to becoming a legal requirement, at least in countries that are already well-equipped to make the transition. In other countries, changes may take place at a slower pace. What seems more likely is that many businesses will adopt a middle-ground solution with hybrid models that combine remote and traditional work.
Written by Harrison Sharrett
Harrison works as a content editor in the real estate sector, he is passionate about a variety of topics and always tries to keep up to date on new trends and opportunities. He’s an avid fan of both basketball and Australian Rules Football and you’ll most often find him in front of the computer writing his next article or debating sports.