The Corona pandemic accelerated the trend of remote work, making it a hot topic for organizations to tackle, if they want to remain competitive. Here is why you cannot just ignore it and hope it all disappears.
As the Corona pandemic reached our doorstep, it felt as our world was turned upside down. First, we struggled with the change. Then, we started to accept the situation, and looked for solutions. We had to adapt - fast. And as the time went by, remote work eventually became a routine. A routine that soon included working in our home office, interacting with our team through our laptop, and having lunch in our own kitchen. And even though we missed some facets of our former working days, not a few of us started to see some advantages of the new habits. Among others, less time spent on the way to work or less time spent in traffic. But also, no more strict dress-codes. More flexibility in terms of our working time.
Which brings us to a situation, where we now may struggle to imagine how work is going to look like in a long-term perspective. Has the Corona Virus changed our work life for good? Or: will the old habits return after the virus threat is gone?
To reflect on this question, a very interesting contribution is the work of Joel Chandelier, historian of medieval medicine at Paris 8 University. The researcher underlined in his work that epidemics in the past, such as for example the pest or cholera, rarely changed the course of history, but that they did accelerated it. In light of this contribution one cannot help but think about the steady growth of remote working before the epidemics. The evolution of supporting technologies including powerful mobile devices, ultra-fast internet connections, and proliferation of cloud-based storage and SaaS solutions allowed the trend towards more remote work to grow steadily before 2020. Between 2005 and 2017, the percent of remote workers increased by 159 % (Global Workplace Analytics, 2019).
Before the crisis, the possibility to work remotely were already seen as an advantage for employees. And now that we all know the advantages of working from home, this option does no longer feel like an inaccessible privilege. Indeed, a study led in March 2020 showed that 75,4% of a representative sample of employees could now imagine work from home for good. 66% wish to have access to remote working in the future (Statista, 2020). Even more, over 60 percent of Germans are in favor of a legal right to a home office!
Therefore, there is no doubt that remote work will be a mega trend in the next years. For companies, it means that offering this possibility will no longer be an option, but a must have. Only by offering remote work options, we can stand a chance in the current war for talents, and get a possibility to recruit candidates from other regions, and particularly if they belong to the younger generation.