A massive disruption to the traditional work structure took place during the pandemic. We saw how it fast-tracked previous work trends.
In fact, most of us will probably agree that prior to the pandemic people rarely worked from home.
Then by early 2020 things drastically changed. Employers and employees alike had to get used to a new paradigm – remote working.
Most employers thought it would be temporary. However, they were wrong!
There’s no doubt that remote and hybrid work is here to stay.
Employers have already invested tons of capital in order to get their workforce to adapt to telecommuting.
In a matter of days, employees who were previously not technically savvy had to transform into a technically competent remote workforce.
These tech adjustments include real-time communication apps, cloud storage, and document collaboration apps, screen sharing software, video conferencing apps, online office suites, etc.
The new norm
Remote work is definitely not slowing down anytime soon. As lockdowns lift, this will become the new norm.
There will be fewer commute times. And, a lot of companies will be more concerned about their ecological footprint.
We will all be noticing these changes more in the coming years.
The huge increase in remote and hybrid work without question is primarily due to the pandemic.
And, many employers, entrepreneurs, social media influencers, etc., hold strong opinions about it.
Expert opinions on the future of remote work
We asked entrepreneurs and other experts their opinions on the future of remote work post-pandemic.
We also asked their opinion on what percentage of knowledge workers they think will continue working remotely.
Check out their answers below.
The remote workplace needs to evolve
“I think remote work is here to stay. It’s something employees want, and institutions will have to make it an option in order to recruit top talent. That said, the remote workplace is going to need to evolve. I would guess that 40% of knowledge workers will be remote 100% of the time. And 90% will be remote at least 2 days a week.”
Company success will depend on remote work arrangements
“If the pandemic has proven anything, it is the impact and success of digital transformation and how many companies can not only be efficient but even more successful when working remotely. Because of this, many companies have decided to go remote post-pandemic, shut down their facilities and improve their digital resources instead.”
Knowledge workers will seek more remote work options
“I believe it’s safe to say remote work won’t be going away any time soon, whether mandated by employers, or due to employees’ personal choices. It is estimated in Gartner’s recent report that by the end of 2021, around 50 to 51 percent of all knowledge workers around the world will be working remotely.”
“Since the pandemic, we can see a clear shift of every industry towards remote work. You can see professionals making their own websites and advertising through social media channels. We know that the greatest asset knowledge workers have are themselves. They can leverage technology to their benefit. More employers and clients are also more open to working with knowledge workers remotely.”
The hybrid model will become more popular
“We’re lucky here in Kotobee that we can conveniently choose whether we want to work from home or not because most of the employees are knowledge workers, which means that everyone can work from anywhere because all the assets they need to work is a computer with an internet connection.
For a while now, all of our content writers, graphic designers, programmers, and web developers have been working remotely and will continue to do so post-pandemic. And this is where my belief that more than 80% of knowledge workers will be able to do just the same. At our company, we’ve already decided to go for a hybrid model of remote work. This way, we’d cater to the needs of everyone.”
“As we’ve seen throughout the pandemic, remote work is necessary for businesses to remain agile during times of crisis. And because it provides a better work-life balance, many employees will expect remote-hybrid work options from their employers. Therefore, as we move forward these next few years, I believe a remote-hybrid work model will become the new norm for at least 25% of businesses.”
“If I had to guess at a figure I’d say 50%, and that hybrid work will probably be the most popular model overall. While plenty of progressive companies are very open to remote work, some remain set in their ways,” even though they’re doing work that could be effectively done remotely. That said, even those die-hard office-based companies are likely to be more flexible with their staff. After all, they all will have tested the model of remote work during the lockdown.”
“It’s fairly clear that both workers and businesses see the benefits of remote operations. This trend was already happening prior to the pandemic, but the viability was fully demonstrated by necessity. I think most companies will adopt a hybrid model with a range of structures; some workers are entirely remote, some are partially remote, and some are fully in-office. These varying approaches will be driven by a) the worker preference; b) the job role requirements; c) the size of the organization or team. My hunch is that the third driver (size of org/team) relates to the need for smaller teams to often operate in a more closed environment.
Startups for example benefit immensely from having team members side-by-side and this is likely to be something that doesn’t change much. Ultimately companies will likely trial-and-error the various approaches to see what works best for them. But undoubtedly many will decide that partial or full-remote works well.”
“I believe that hybrid models of remote work will most definitely persist in the future. By now, it is pretty clear what the benefits and limitations to working from home are. The pandemic brought down the cultural and technological barriers that had previously held people back from even considering WFH.
Nowadays, I think that more than 20% of employees around the world are toying with the idea of adopting a hybrid model where they could easily do three days at home and two days at the office because they are certain that they can keep up with the workload. Yet, it is still true that more than half of the workforce can’t do remote work, either it’s because they use specific machinery or they work in the food industry (among other jobs). “
Companies need to have a straightforward hybrid policy
“I believe that a hybrid model is the future. Now that it’s been proven that remote work can be functional, there’s no excuse for not offering it as an option when possible. Everyone has their own preferences and plenty of workers will prefer to come into the office some or most of the time, but others will want to stay home. Having a clear and straightforward hybrid work policy will make the transition easier and give employees a solid framework so they know what you expect.”
The future of work will depend on how long this pandemic will last
“I believe the future of remote work depends on how long the pandemic lasts. We are still in a phase that if the pandemic is only one or two more years, then maybe employers will encourage workers back to the office. However, if the pandemic continues for three to five years or longer, then we are going to see a major and likely permanent shift.
The longer timeline will mean more office leases expire and are not renewed, employees become accustomed to working from home, and the workforce moves further away from major cities and previous offices. All of these shifts will be hard and expensive to retract from. As a rough estimate, I believe 80% to 98% of knowledge workers will operate from home, with the remainder allocated to jobs that must be done in person due to security constraints or similar.”
Remote work will thrive no matter what
“I’d say remote work will remain most common at any company even after the Covid crisis ends. Regardless if it is mandated by the employer or due to the employee’s personal choices…6 out of 10 companies have moved to work remotely since last year, and about 51% of workers worldwide are moving to the hybrid setup or fully remote until the end of 2021.”
There is no going back
“It will be hard for employers to revert back to the in-office world as we knew it. The pandemic has gone on for so long, employers won’t be able to make the case that work can’t be done remotely, because here we are almost two years later and still successfully making remote work work.
Not to mention, the current labor shortage puts employees in the driver seat with their demands and benefits; and employees are demanding remote work options. It may be hard to give a percentage estimate on how many total knowledge workers will work remotely, but I think it’s safe to say, most knowledge workers will be working remotely about 75% of the time, with 25% of the time being in-office or getting some sort of in-person face time.”
Employees will be just as productive working remotely
“I think the future of work is remote. These past 18 months have shown companies that employees are just as productive, if not more so when they’re working remotely.
The majority of knowledge workers will work remotely (likely anywhere from 60%-80%) This might not be the preference for employers in the beginning, but to keep talent they’ll have to adapt to what that talent wants. If the studies are correct, that’s the ability to work remotely.”
Talent, prioritization, and flexibility are key
“In 2021 and beyond, employers who want to hold on to top talent and compete in the job market post-pandemic will be forced to prioritize flexibility both in time and location. When polled about common work benefits and perks, the No. 1 most desired benefit among workers and job seekers—at 36%—was the ability to work from home more often or have a flexible schedule.”
All the experts agree that remote work is here to stay. In fact, according to data-driven economic sites, in the U.S. alone over 60% of businesses will move towards a “hybrid model flexibility.”
Furthermore, aside from compensation, what employees care most about are flexible work schedules (31%), mobility opportunities (25%), and remote work options (22%).
In addition, let’s assume, drawing upon past trends, that employees who worked remotely prior to the pandemic will lean more towards the hybrid model or a 100% teleworking arrangement.
The advantages of working from home are sure to impress those new to remote work. This will result in remote and hybrid work becoming the norm.
As far as employers go, those who were caught unprepared this time, will get it together quickly – determine what worked – what needs to be trashed – and modify their strategy so that they are better prepared going forward.
So, it appears that our experts are on the money. Remote work is not only here to stay but is going to increase substantially as more remote job opportunities develop.
Carlo Borja is the Head of Content Marketing for Time Doctor, a productivity analytics software for distributed teams. He is a remote work advocate, a father and a coffee junkie.