We have all adapted recently with many changes in our lifestyles, brought on by this historic pandemic we find ourselves amid today. How we shop, how we cook and eat, how we exercise, how we travel (or not), how we engage our family and friends, how we work and how we’ve set up our homes to do so, how we communicate and engage with our co-workers … this has all changed.
So many people are posting about how we are all anxiously awaiting the day we can get out to eat at a restaurant with some friends, return to sports and other hobbies, visit cottages, campgrounds and beaches together etc. I think everyone can agree that we will all appreciate these things when we can do them again. But I wonder what the long-term effects will be with our workforce, after COVID is over
For some people, working from home is not new but for most people working remotely has not been an option before. As of mid-March 2020 working from home became a necessity for so much of our workforce, and it all happened very, very quickly (if you were lucky enough to be able to keep working that is). Fast forward several weeks later, to present, and many people are reporting a variety of feelings around working remotely; some like it and some don’t. In any event, many businesses forced themselves to figure this out “on the fly” so we now have much of our workforce, that have never worked from home before, being able to try this “new” routine in real life. Looking into the future, to a time when we are back to work and things are back to being as normal as we will see them again, how might our workforce change over the long term? Microsoft predicts the novel coronavirus pandemic will be a turning point that will change how we work and learn, forever. I wrote last month about the growth of Teams, for example, and how there has been a 500% growth in Teams meetings and a 200% growth in Teams usage on mobile devices. Teams meeting and calls are growing of course, but the use of video during these meetings and calls is also being used much more too. Working and learning from home inspires people to turn on video 2X more than before the outbreak. This image shows the increase in video usage from March 2 - March 31.
I have had several video calls with various friends and groups recently, which would never have happened before. But personal video chats aside, the use of video conferencing is now becoming more and more acceptable in our courtrooms. “In the wake of the lockdown imposed to curb the spread of the novel Coronavirus, the Supreme Court is taking very urgent matters for hearing, remotely. This is how Supreme Court Judges are using Video Conferencing to hear urgent matters. Many businesses will come up with new policies around work from home, to fit within their business needs and their employee’s roles, but the effects of the “work from home” (WFH) shift may even play out in deeper ways within our society too. Check out these comments and perspectives: “I used to have to drive an hour each way to and from work. I haven’t put gas in my car in over a week. It used to be about $80/week. My company tightened the reigns on OT but I am saving more money in the end with my new routine. So, will we see less cars on the road, reduced traffic and congestion, and can we cut emissions significantly while still moving the economy forward? “With work from home in place, downtown offices are less important now. Less people have to live close to their job in the downtime area, lowering the prices and allowing people that actually NEED to work in the downtown area to live close to their jobs." - The Verge
Could this change the landscape of real estate pricing in big cities. Will this play into people’s thoughts about where they may choose to live? Will businesses be able to widen their market for potential talent? We will see how these changes may affect our workforce in the coming months, and years, but I would encourage all businesses to think about their long term strategy for offering WFH options, both from an HR/retention and IT perspective. We have helped many clients setting up VPNs for their remote workers, and helping to deploy Microsoft Teams etc. If you have any questions about how you can leverage IT solutions for your remote workforce, let us know.