During the past fifty years, the internet has dramatically changed the way we live our lives. More people now have reliable connections to the internet and the internet is more accessible than ever before. Considering this, remote work hasn’t just become a viable alternative. For a lot of workers, remote work has become their preference.

The meteoric rise of remote work

Despite the increasing viability of remote work, a lot of employers still scoff at the idea. The consensus seems to be that a team working together in the office is more efficient and collaborative. It’s thought that employees, when given too much freedom, would abuse it.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic happened and suddenly forced scores of companies to adopt a remote workforce. Companies that until recently told employees that this was impossible.

The sudden move to remote work did provide logistical headaches for some companies. However, most transitioned into this “new normal” just fine. In fact, many companies posted record profits despite a global pandemic going on at the same time.

Do all good things come to an end?

It’s now been a couple of years since the COVID-19 pandemic began and companies are now faced with a tough decision. Do they stay remote? Do they return to the office? Is there some other way?

Some prominent companies like Twitter are embracing the change. Twitter recently announced their employees can now work from home or wherever they feel most productive, indefinitely. Other companies, however, do not share this sentiment. A lot of them are forcing all of their employees to return to the office like it was before the pandemic.

How do the workers feel about remote work?

I recently did a small poll on Twitter where I asked my followers about their personal work environment preferences. Here are the results:

I know the sample size is small, but there is a clear preference among participants for remote working, or at least some level of flexibility to a return to office arrangement.

Considerations for employers

Despite the sentiments workers have towards returning to the office, it’s not that clear cut for employers. At the end of the day, remote working and working from the office have their respective pros and cons. Companies just have to weigh up their options.

On the positive side, remote work ensures that your employees don’t waste time commuting. This gives employees more time in the day so they can sleep longer to rest better, tend to chores or even put in more work. All of the above contribute to a happier, more productive employee. Remote work also allows them to work in a comfortable environment that could improve their mental health.

Downsides to remote work include communication gaps, legal issues when hiring team members abroad and inconsistent work environments across employees.

Notice I don’t mention “more distractions” because that’s common misconception employers have. Distractions occur at home and in the office, they’re just different in nature. Good employees are capable enough to handle these distractions and not let them affect their productivity.

What does the future of work look like?

Like it or not, the COVID-19 pandemic has been the catalyst to forever change the way we work. Employees in careers that allow for remote work have now gotten a taste of how different work can be. Even in careers that don’t facilitate remote working, I think we’ll see more freedoms afforded to employees. If, as an employer, you’re unwilling to extend these freedoms to your employees, they will find someone who will.

Feature photo by Ivan Samkov from Pexels