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The Future of Work Is Here Thanks to COVID-19

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Last summer, 24 Seven researched what the future of work means to talent. At the time, 41% of study participants worked from a company location exclusively, while 15% worked exclusively away from the company offices. Eighty-eight percent agreed that continuing technological change would increase the flexibility around how/when/where employees work. Last summer. That was 500 years ago, right? None of us realized then that a global pandemic would compress the remote work timeline, and we would all be participating in a work-from-home proof of concept experiment.

Workers have adjusted to the new remote-work norm

Last week, we conducted more research – this time to quantify how employees are adjusting to the pandemic-disrupted Upside Down. Study participants report that the universal pivot to remote work has been reasonably smooth. Most say they have the tools and technology to make working from home productive and effective. Over 7 in 10 say they have the remote-workability trifecta: a laptop, high-speed internet, and a smartphone. Two-thirds have access to conference and video call capability, messaging applications, and project management software. Eight in ten said that they can fully perform the duties of their role from home and are confident in their ability to be effective. Almost all said they have a quiet, dedicated workspace to make it happen. Nine out of ten respondents were personally well-prepared to work from home, and 8 in 10 said that their company was moderately to extremely prepared for the location shift of their employees. There is a desire for training and development support, however, to help them stay productive, effective, engaged, and contributing at a high level.

… And so have companies

This most recent research from 24 Seven finds that 30% of study companies did not have a remote work policy before the pandemic crisis. Four in ten study participants say that the crisis-inspired remote policy is more flexible than the one that existed before the virus outbreak. And thoughts around returning to a rigid or non-existent remote policy after the pandemic is under control? Three-fourths think there’s no going back. This change will undoubtedly be celebrated and welcomed by an overwhelming majority of employees around the globe. A decade of research that 24 Seven has conducted into the attitudes and behaviors of talent has consistently shown that remote and flexible work is a coveted and treasured aspect of the employment proposition.

The future is now

This pandemic is forcing culture-shaping paradigm shifts in thinking around many long-held societal constructs. All indicators suggest that what “going to work” means may have been changed forever. COVID-19 has forced the hand of companies who have long-delayed and outright avoided corporate cultural shifts around from where and when employees work. When it comes to remote work and flexibility, the future is now. To see the results of our work from home study, click here.