Will We Work From Home Forever? Here’s What You Need to Know.
Thanks to COVID-19, the boundaries between work and home life have all but completely dissolved. Seemingly overnight, millions of people made the switch to remote work—and today, videoconferencing your colleagues into your home seems downright normal. This forced transition has certainly melted some of the resistance and long-held biases against remote work, and even revealed a wealth of new opportunities. Still, there remain many unanswered questions: Will the pandemic lead to a permanent increase in working from home? What does that mean for productivity, engagement, and collaboration in the long-term? And finally, how can leaders lead—and grow—a team made up entirely of remote workers?
According to research by McKinsey & Company, 80 percent of people surveyed report that they enjoy working from home. Of that 80, 41 percent say they are more productive than before and 28 percent say they are equally as productive. Liberated from long commutes, many employees have not only increased their productivity, but have also enjoyed the flexibility of balancing their personal and professional lives. And it’s not only employees who can see the benefit of remote work. From a leadership perspective, organizations are considering how they can access new pools of talent with fewer geographic constraints, reduce their real estate costs, and even improve productivity and culture by applying innovative new processes throughout their teams.
With so much positive feedback, it’s hard to imagine that employees and employers alike will shift back to full-time office work. In another survey, this time by the O.C. Tanner Institute, respondents were asked how many days they hoped (or expected) to be able to work from home in the future. Sixty percent answered at least two days, 19% answered all five, and only a third either hoped or expected to completely return to the office.
Below are a few of the Lavin speakers who are leading the charge on imagining, and preparing for, what the next era of work will bring.
Amber Mac: Over the last decade, digital innovator and world-renowned tech reporter Amber Mac has enjoyed the freedom of growing her business in coffee shops, hotel lobbies, and the comfort of her own home. But COVID-19 has revealed that many organizations lack the infrastructure to empower their employees to do the same. As leaders play catch-up, Mac predicts that our current situation will fuel an acceleration of technology that will alter the workforce forever. In her virtual keynotes, she offers practical lessons and tools for implementing rapid digitization and laying the groundwork for tomorrow’s workplace.
Nicholas Thompson: The great work-from-home experiment of 2020 is, for the most part, working. For industries like tech and media especially, it’s almost easier (and preferable) to work remotely rather than go into an office. But as we think about making this transition permanent—as many tech companies, like Google and Twitter have already done—Nicholas Thompson offers a word of caution. The editor-in-chief of WIRED, Thompson takes a 360 view of what it means to work from home forever. From the difficulties of office turn-over, to the increased threat of cybercrime, he anticipates and thinks through the potential problems that may arise from a decentralized work environment.
Stephanie Mehta: If there’s anything we’ve learned from the swift onset of the coronavirus, it’s that flexibility and resilience are crucial factors in business. But how can we bake those values into the heart of our organization? To start, we must reimagine things we once took for granted—such as the concept of “the office” as we know it today. As the editor-in-chief of Fast Company, Stephanie Mehta speaks to the greatest innovators in design and technology to see how they’re redesigning the workplace of tomorrow, whether that be reducing the physical footprint of their offices, or coming up with innovative ways to manage hybrid teams made up of both remote and in-person workers.
Jamil Zaki: If remote work is the future, then how can we make sure it’s sustainable over time? Stanford psychologist Jamil Zaki believes the answer lies in embracing empathetic leadership. In his work, Zaki contradicts the idea that empathy is a squishy “soft” skill, and instead presents it as an organizational superpower that improves productivity, efficiency, and the health and happiness of employees. In a remote work environment, empathetic leadership becomes even more crucial. It would be a mistake to assume that the camaraderie that has sustained many employees early on in this crisis will endure long-term (McKinsey). Zaki shows us how a compassionate and empathetic leader will be able to foster communication, build relationships, facilitate peer recognition, and finally, create a sense of togetherness—all while remaining apart.
Jonathan Brill: News is only random and unexpected if you’re not looking at the ‘big picture,’ says Jonathan Brill. A proven visionary and business keynote speaker, Brill has been considering the future of work long before COVID-19 came along. In his talks, he walks you through the hidden sociological, economic, and technological changes that will shape your business—including how automation and artificial intelligence might be deployed in a post-pandemic workforce.
Curious about the future of work? Contact The Lavin Agency to find a speaker for your next event.