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Why Remote Work Won't Change for Tech Workers
Even After the Pandemic is Officially 'Over'
Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter are some of the biggest names in tech. All three companies quickly responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by allowing employees to work from home.
Remote work was supposed to be a temporary thing that allowed employees to continue working and employers to provide continual service to their customers.
However, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to linger, several benefits of remote work have come to the fore. As a result, many tech giants, including Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft, have told their employees that they may be able to work from home permanently.
As work from home becomes more prominent, several companies are stepping up to address the needs and concerns work from home employees have. There has been an increase in the number of and quality of services offered by online video conferencing services, like Zoom. There are several companies that have created quality accounting and invoicing services that are cloud-based, which allow remote workers to collaborate with each other. Every indication is that if tech companies have their employees working from home, the employees will work as efficiently, if not more efficiently, than they did from the office.
The Pros and Cons of Permanently Shifting to Remote Work
Many tech companies were surprised at how productive employees were when working from home. However, as the work from home experiment shifted from temporary to permanent, some negative aspects of it have become apparent.
One downside has to do with the way employees feel about work. When employees worked at an office, there was a clear demarcation between work life and private life. Now, many people feel as if they are living and sleeping at work.
One reason employers had been reluctant to go to a work from home model is they felt that employees would not be as productive because of being distracted by people and objects in their home. However, just the opposite is happening. While working from home, people spend more time doing tasks for work. When they get a phone call in the middle of dinner, they cannot use the excuse that the information being requested is at the office because their home is the office.
There is some concern that this lack of separation between work life and home life can negatively impact an employee’s mental health. For this reason, some tech companies are considering doing a 50-50 split. Half of the work will be done in the office and half of the work will be done from home.
Most employers in the technology field do not believe that the work situation will return to pre-pandemic conditions soon. COVID-19 has permanently changed how people work.
How Working from Home Will Change Other Aspects of Life
Most people do not think about how many of their decisions are predicated on where they work. These decisions influence everything from the price of real estate to the price of food to the political makeup of communities.
For example, real estate prices in New York City are unbelievably high. This is due in part to the fact that many of the high-powered, high-paying jobs in the country are in New York City. People will pay a premium for rent if it allows them to live in proximity to their employment.
Some people love city life. However, many people would prefer the open spaces and quiet that come with living in the suburbs or in a country community. If white-collar workers are told that they can do their job from anywhere in the country, it is only logical that they are going to move parts of the country where their salary allows them to purchase a larger home, live in safer neighborhoods, and be closer to the people and things that mean the most to them. While the immediate shift in population would start out moderate, with time, people being able to live where they want to live as opposed to being forced to live where their job dictates will revolutionize politics, culture, and the economy.
As videoconferencing and webinars replace in-person meetings, business travel will fall off. This will have a domino effect throughout the hospitality industry. Business travel leads to leisure spending.
When a businessperson travels, they stay at luxury hotels and pay full price because their corporation is paying for it. They fly first class or business class on the company’s dime. They use their company’s credit card to purchase expensive car services and dining at expensive restaurants.
Fewer employees in offices means fewer people eating lunch or visiting restaurants during the middle of the day. Happy hour disappears. Fewer employees at offices reduces the need for office building rentals, cleaning, maintenance, and security.
It’s not all gloom and doom. One of the amazing things about the world economy is its versatility. When the workforce shifts its location and patterns, businesses will respond in kind. If families move from large cities like Chicago, New York, and San Francisco to smaller cities, they will take their money and their leisure desires with them. They will probably stimulate the growth of new shops and restaurants in less affluent parts of the country.
In a Post Pandemic World Nothing Is Certain
Really, nothing is certain. Large tech companies could reconsider and decide that the remote work experiment has long-term unforeseen negatives. They may require the bulk of their employees to return to working in the office once the conditions allow for it.
Even if there is a small permanent increase in remote work, it could lead to permanent changes in the economy, politics, and the distribution of the labor force. Remote workers will spend money on improving their home and tailoring their home for work. Their circle of friends will change from fellow employees to people within their community.
Many of the trends we are seeing with remote work were already coming down the pipeline. The pandemic has accelerated the pace with which these changes have occurred.
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About the Author
Kate Noether is a PR Specialist, SEO expert and all-round tech enthusiast. Apart from that she enjoys biking on weekends and spending time in nature.