The COVID-19 pandemic has given companies and their employees a taste of the future by forcing entire workforces to go remote overnight. For many former office workers, spending a year working from the comfort of their own home has solidified a strong preference for remote work; and while some are eager to be able to safely meet in person again, the overwhelming majority of professionals prefer to continue to work remotely in some capacity once the pandemic is over.
According to a recent FlexJobs survey, 65% of participants indicated they wanted to continue working remotely full time, and another 33% preferred a hybrid approach. Furthermore, 58% of survey respondents said they would “absolutely” look for a new role if they could not continue working remotely at their current organization. Just 2% of survey respondents said they wanted to go back to an office full time.
Even as their employees demand a more flexible and modern approach to work, many companies remain committed to an eventual return to the office. And that “eventual” is rapidly becoming “imminent,” as vaccinations roll out globally.
With the light at the end of the tunnel for COVID-19, is the future of work changing again?
Major tech companies are split. Some key players like Gitlab, Spotify, Twitter, and Facebook have embraced remote work for good, while other giants like Google, Amazon, and Netflix have backtracked on remote work and are poised to return to a more traditional office-centric culture post-pandemic. Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs recently made news when CEO David Solomon “rejected remote working as a ‘new normal’” and instead called remote work an “aberration that we’re going to correct as soon as possible” (BBC).
Ultimately, as has become a standard with the current pandemic, the world is divided on whether to return to the office or embrace a remote-first future.
In the immediate future, work post-pandemic is likely to be highly variable depending on the organization. As COVID restrictions relax and offices “reopen,” we expect most companies to land somewhere in the middle--adopting a hybrid approach that allows for remote work in some capacity. Again, what this looks like will also vary significantly from company to company. For some organizations, certain roles will be eligible to work from home, while other roles will need to come into the office. Other organizations may allow all employees to work from home on certain days of the week, while coming into the office on the other days.
Ultimately, the hybrid remote work model will become the “new normal,” and employees think so too. A JLL Human Experience survey showed that 66% of employees expect a hybrid model when the pandemic is over. Plus, companies like Microsoft have already indicated their plans to transition into a hybrid model to achieve the best of both worlds.
Companies that try to bring their employees back to the office full time will ultimately be forced to adopt a hybrid or remote culture sooner than later. Why? Employee demand for remote work is clear. Companies that offer a remote-first culture now will be extremely attractive to job candidates. Plus, with fewer geographical limitations, early adopters of fully remote work will be able to attract talent from a much broader talent pool. This will create immense pressure on companies that decided to move forward with an office-centric model, who will need to adapt to remain competitive in the talent market.
To learn more, read our recent blog post The Future of Work: 4 Models for Remote and Hybrid Work.