Last week, we asked our Twitter followers how they felt about working from home. 33 percent said they loved it, 27 percent can’t wait to get back to the office and the remaining 40 percent are pretty neutral about it. With COVID-19 shifting the way we work, educate and interact with the world, it’s no surprise that 73 percent of organizations with 500-plus employees are introducing more expansive telecommuting policies in the future. In addition, several other organizations report leaving the decision to return to the office at all up to the individual. With so much variance in employees’ opinions of remote work, this begs the question: some day we’ll go back to the office, but will we?
There are are so many unknowns in life right now, especially as it pertains to work. Some speculate that big American cities like New York, San Francisco and Chicago will lose their appeal for employment opportunity. (After all, if an entire team is remote, employees could live in Wisconsin but still work for a tech start-up in the Bay Area). Meanwhile, while others argue that these cities may see an influx of eager workers hungry for opportunity after the country opens back up.
With all the complications that lockdowns have caused, there is some semblance of a silver lining when we think about how the this time has forced us to shift our perception of the workplace. Organizations all over the country are committing to remote work indefinitely, resulting in fewer cars on the road (and cleaner air), less stress on employees who commute and more flexibility for employees to have agency over their time, some getting several hours back each week they’re not sitting in traffic.
In addition, many leaders report increased productivity among their teams. The lines between departments and titles have blurred, leveling the playing field for cross-functional collaboration and accountability.
There is no blanketed right or wrong way for an organization to handle the way forward: the grey area is where many will find themselves. Each situation is different, and each workplace is different. The best way to combat the changing workplace climate is to listen to your employees and create an environment where everyone feels safe and productive in a way that makes sense for your business. The workplace of the future may be different than we previously imagined it would be.
This article first appeared in www.cmocouncil.org
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