Millions of Americans were required to work remotely in 2020 due to Covid-19. Although there has been a growing demand for decades for flexibility in how and where people work, it wasn’t until the pandemic forced the widespread use of tools like Zoom, that the public perception of virtual work with its many benefits for both employees and employers was truly understood.
Covid-19 gave many employees the opportunity to work from home and many are in no rush to go back to the pre-Covid workplace.
An October 2020 Gallup poll found that of the workers who had transitioned to remote work, two- thirds would like to continue to work remotely. Additionally, a survey of CFOs (Chief Financial Officers) found that 74% of CFOs plan to transition employees who worked in person to remote work, even after Covid-19. Although some companies will choose to move workers to a fully remote arrangement, the hybrid model, in which staff work part-time remotely and part-time in person, is expected to become extremely popular.
Video-conferencing platforms have become an integral part of our work lives, and have also allowed us to be connected with our families and closest friends.
According to Zoom, in 2020, their revenue growth increased by 367% from the 2019 data and it hosted 300 million meeting participants per day. In the business landscape, video-conferencing/video chat provides many advantages over the faceless phone call. Face-to-face interactions create stronger, trusting relationships and participants get to know each other as people.
In addition, since 70 percent of communication is nonverbal, visual communication is vital in order to truly understand what the other person is saying. Lastly, where the sharing of visual ideas, drawings and designs could previously only be carried out within an in-person meeting, video collaboration enables immediate sharing and feedback without the travel or coordination of schedules.
Virtual interviewing is also likely to become the norm, because employers have become more comfortable using video conferencing and video chat, which has made the interview process much easier.
In addition to becoming such a part of how we do business and socialize, video-conferencing has and will continue to impact the way that industries and companies approach conferences and events.
The pandemic has had a huge impact on the travel industry, and on people’s willingness and desire to travel. In May of 2020, the International Air Transport Association predicted that travel demand in 2021 would be down 41% from the 2019 rates, and suggested that it would take five to seven years for the industry to reach 2019 demand levels. In addition to the increasing unwillingness to risk travel, many companies have realized the cost-saving benefits of planning/attending virtual conferences/events over in-person events. According to Kate Lister, President of Global Workplace Analytics, “A typical employer can save about $11,000/year for every person who works remotely half of the time. Employees can save between $2,500 and $4,000 a year (working remotely half the time) and even more if they are able to move to a less expensive area and work remotely full time.”
As more and more workers engage in remote work, and many cities have experienced major Covid-19 outbreaks and subsequent lockdowns, many workers are looking for more rural and suburban places to live.
According to the USPS (United States Postal Service) data, the cities that lost the most residents were among the biggest cities in the country, including New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles and Houston. In Manhattan alone, over 110 thousand residents relocated, a 487% increase from 2019 numbers. Unfortunately, remote workers leaving large cities for open spaces and a cheaper cost of living, may face pay cuts as many companies are considering pay cuts to account for the lower cost of living in other places.
When Covid-19 is in the rearview, and masks and six feet of separation are a thing of the past, companies that used remote working to adapt will be more efficient, more flexible and more adept at building strong relationships with customers and coworkers. The success of remote work may even transform the workplace permanently, by creating hybrid offices where employees work remotely two to three days and then rotate into a shared workspace for the remainder of the work week.
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