With governments increasingly implementing social distancing policies as part of efforts to slow transmission of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, the pandemic has reaped devastation around the world. Not only have our home lives been disrupted due to lockdowns, but the way we work has been altered dramatically—and perhaps permanently. Read on to learn how COVID-19 has impacted how we work.
1. Increased Adoption of Remote Working
If the pandemic has shown us one thing, it is that businesses can survive, and indeed thrive, by embracing remote working practices.
In the past, many employers have been averse to allowing staff to work from home, despite the well-reported advantages. Before the arrival of COVID-19, professionals around the world increasingly sought remote roles, with demand vastly outstripping supply.
However, employers are reluctant to implement telework into their businesses for a variety of reasons. A common objection is that by allowing one employee to work remotely, employers potentially open the floodgates for a mass exodus from the office. Nevertheless, becoming remote-friendly does not have to be an “all or nothing” venture. Some of the world’s biggest and most successful organizations, including industry giants like Amazon, Microsoft, and Dell, have demonstrated considerable success with remote working practices.
According to Forbes, businesses could enjoy an average $11,000 annual reduction in operational costs and increased productivity for every employee that transitions to telework. Many managers remain convinced that remote work solely benefits the employee, but the figures speak for themselves.
Additionally, remote work promotes a happy work-life balance, but that need not be to the detriment of the company. Employers should not mistake worker contentment for dereliction of duty. Several authoritative studies show a direct correlation between the adoption of remote practices and increased worker productivity.
Thanks to rapid technological advancements, remote working capabilities are much more sophisticated than simply communicating via phone. Teleworkers can e-mail, collaborate via cloud software, and stage video conferences. Thanks to progressive technologies, many employees can discharge practically all of their duties remotely, negating the need for expensive office space. According to a study conducted by the creators of CTrip, a Chinese travel website, remote workers conducted approximately 13.5 percent more calls compared with their inhouse colleagues, equating to an extra day’s work in any given week.
Also, facilitating remote work practices boosts staff morale, making employees feel trusted and valued. According to one US survey, 91 percent of teleworkers agreed that they were more productive at home compared with an office environment. A study from 2006 reported a 35 percent increase in employee productivity, even before the rise of smartphone technology and the ensuing explosion in communication apps. And according to ConnectSolutions, 77 percent of remote workers agree that at home they faced fewer distractions, such as unscheduled meetings, noisy coworkers, and chats.
In terms of cost-saving potential, embracing remote working practices creates vast savings by reducing hardware, real estate, and commuting costs while simultaneously increasing employee satisfaction, engagement, and productivity. In a time of quarantines and lockdowns, employees have proven time and time again that they can not only survive in a remote environment but flourish.
2. Increased Employer Flexibility
Schools and daycare closures placed parents around the world under massive pressure in the early part of 2020, with many effectively forced to choose between their job and taking proper care of their family.
The imposition of quarantine forced many employers to think outside the box, with businesses evolving in line with this new reality. Managers came to accept that work weeks need not be set in stone as 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday. They also increasingly came to realize that their greatest asset—the workforce—could be trusted as responsible adults, ascertaining that productivity does not necessarily correlate with time spent in the office in person.
3. Increased Automation and Reliance on Technology
Teleconferencing software company Zoom experienced a massive increase in profits in the first half of 2020, effectively doubling its annual sales forecast. The surge in new signups came as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with companies clamoring to connect staff members and remain operational throughout the coronavirus crisis. Once languishing in obscurity, Zoom emerged as a Silicon Valley goldmine, turning a profit of $27 million in the first quarter of 2020, compared with just $198,000 for the same period in 2019.
Providing a vital lifeline for displaced employees in recent months, talent intelligence platform Censia connects employers with top-tier candidates. With 36 million unemployed workers in the United States, and many businesses continuing to experience significant upheaval, Censia’s ReadyToHire service currently services 2.4 million affected candidates, actively matching them with open roles at more than 50 global enterprises.
While some organizations have had to downsize their workforce, the COVID-19 pandemic has created exponential growth in others, sparking urgent hiring needs. By signing up with Censia, displaced workers receive free access to career development tools and benefit from priority positioning in search results. Censia’s unique talent matching platform and AI capabilities connect companies with top talent, helping displaced workers secure challenging, exciting roles with companies undergoing rapid expansion.