I can’t be alone these days in feeling like I’m wrapped up in some sort of bad sci-fi movie…one day glibly going about the good life, the next day watching normalcy disintegrate before my very eyes. Unfortunately, this world of fear, uncertainty, and economic doom and gloom we’re living in today is all too real — with some of the biggest shadows casting over the workforce and the workplace.
As we try to make sense of what’s next, it’s only natural as rational human beings, that we look to the data — and already we have plenty to peruse.
From an MIT study
, we know that 34.1% of 25,000 workers surveyed from April 1 to April 5 had switched from commuting to working from home. Add that to the 14.6% of respondents who already had been doing so pre-COVID-19, and we can assume that nearly half of the workforce is now working remotely, as MIT reported. Meantime, from a report
coming out of the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago, we learn that 37% of U.S. jobs can “plausibly be performed at home.”
But the big unknown that everybody is trying to figure out is how permanent the work-from-home shift will be. That’s certainly a big question for our WorkSpace Connect audience. Enterprise IT leaders must know if their stopgap measures for keeping remote workers connected and able to collaborate need shoring up for the long haul or are good enough until a return to the office. Facilities/real estate planners need to know how many workers will be returning to the office so they can adequately reconfigure office floor plans, collaboration spaces, and meeting room designs. And HR professionals need to adapt their policies and processes with an eye on keeping all workers, home and in-office, engaged.
To get a handle on what’s next, IT research firm Nemertes Research polled IT executives about how they anticipated handling work-from-home (WFH) support post-pandemic. Robin Gareiss, Nemertes President, shared results in a post
for our sister site, No Jitter. She broke the respondents into two groups – those companies that just recently have allowed remote work since COVID-19’s onset, and all companies allowing WFH now.
Among the first group, Nemertes found that 18.9% don’t intend to continue the WFH option post-pandemic; 55.3% will or probably will continue allowing WFH; 25.9% are unsure about future WFH status. Whereas among the overall group, 70.6% are either definitely or probably going to continue WFH support post-pandemic. Only 12.8% won’t continue on with WFH, with 16.6% expressing uncertainly about future WFH plans.
Based on the initial experiences from the pandemic among companies Nemertes has talked to, it’s clear that more employees will be working from home, either full or part-time, once the crisis lifts than were doing so pre-COVID-19. Nemertes identified six top drivers pushing companies looking to build or grow WFH as part of their employee strategy:
- Improved employee quality of life
- Aid preparation for future disasters
- Better for the environment
- Reduction in employee turnover
- Increased productivity from WFH workforce
- Lower real-estate costs
IT seems ready to take on WFH as a new normal, but what about HR and facilities? We’ll continue exploring how the workforce and workplace strategies will change post-COVID-19 in future posts.