My team and I have worked remotely for years, and we understand the great freedoms, and pitfalls of remote work. Now that millions of workers around the world are working from home, and acclimating to that lifestyle, I believe we will see an acceleration in several flexible workplace trends.
The Effect of COVID-19 On Workplace Trends
Corporations will realize they don't lose much productivity, and may even see an increase
A big barrier for corporations in giving their workforce more flexibility, is the feeling of loss of control on productivity. Managers often feel that they can't let everyone work from home because their workforce will just surf social media, and not work. Guess what, they're doing that in the office!
The reality is, workers very often report INCREASED productivity. It's a reflection of a timeless principle - give good people freedom and responsibility, and the people step up.
More and more companies are going to realize, their people are more productive when they can have their own time, space and authority to control their life-schedule.
Increase in 4 Day Workweeks and flexible hours
With increased productivity, employers will see they get more done in less time when dispersed and remote, so they can get way more flexible in their work weeks. Companies like Basecamp already enforece a 32 hour workweek during May - September. I think we'll see an increase in 4 day/32 hour work weeks. This is especially true for skilled knowledge workers.
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Less cubes and dedicated desks. more collaborative office space
If more employees work remote at least some of the time, there is less need for dedicated individual workspace in an office. Many coworking spaces have a range of options where people can just show up and grab a desk. This trend will permiate the office design world, and we'll see a shift to less desks, and more breakout rooms, conference rooms and collaborative spaces.
"Shifts" in the office
Rythms will also change in offices. We will likely see knowledge workers coming to work in teams and shifts. We may see half the office teams come into the office on Monday/Wednesday and the other half on Tuesday/Thursday with the off days working remote.
This would cut down on necessary office space, but still facilitate the collaborative nature that offices create.
HR pros are always trying to figure out new benefits in the fights to hire and retain top talent. We are likely to see an even greater emphasis on flex benefits such as at home fitness subscriptions, technology stipends, childcare and grocery delivery.
My favorite new benefit that is part of the CARES Act is pre-tax student loan payment, where companies can contribute to employees student loans on as a tax deductible expense. Companies like Get Peanut Butter have led the charge on getting this legislation passed.
The World Is Trending Remote
Remote work was already a hot topic. The convergence of technology, lifestyle, and now global pandemic is the accelerant. The future of remote work looks brighter every day.
Related: Remote Work Tools