Over the past two years, COVID-19 has reshaped the workplace for many individuals and companies. Despite offices opening back up and people in some professions returning to in-person work, almost 60% of workers in the US who can do their jobs from home are still teleworking (working from home or other remote locations) all or most of the time.
Before the pandemic hit, less than 25% of US employees worked from home either full- or part-time. Though rates of people teleworking have dropped slightly from their peak earlier in the pandemic, the number of people who continue to work from home (WFH) remains significantly higher than before the COVID-19 hit.
The Implications of Higher Telework Rates for the Workplace
Among populations interviewed about their plans to return to an office or other place of work as the world continues to return to some new kind of “normal,” many people report that they plan to continue to WFH some or all of the time. Thus, the global pandemic has permanently changed the paradigm of the modern workplace. This has many implications for the way companies and their employees work. And, as it turns out, those implications seem to be overwhelmingly positive.
Workers Have More Flexibility in their Working Hours
While standard business hours for most companies remain the same, individuals working from home are experiencing more flexibility in terms of their hours. Because they aren’t required to show up to an office at a specific hour and stay until a specific hour, employees are freer to work during the hours that suit them
Part of the reason for this is that, during the COVID-19 pandemic, employers had to understand that many people were stuck at home with their whole families and therefore had other responsibilities that they had to take care of throughout the day as well.
Employers and employees have also realized that, as long as everyone shows up for meetings and takes care of all their responsibilities, there’s no reason they can’t start working later or earlier or take a couple of hours off one day and make them up over the weekend. So, more flexible working hours are a workplace trend of 2022 that’s here to stay.
Employees (and companies) Have More Opportunities
Pre-pandemic workers were more likely to stay with a particular company for years, working their way up the corporate ladder. But, with so many companies utilizing a WFH or hybrid workplace business model, it is now easier than ever to find remote work opportunities, so employees aren’t as limited in their options.
This also presents more business opportunities because they aren’t restricted to searching for talent locally or within specific geographic areas. This means they can find people who have specific skill sets or who can work within their budget more efficiently, ultimately contributing to the success of their business.
There’s Less Need for Physical Office Space
Since so many people will continue to work from home in 2022 and beyond, companies no longer need the same office space as before the pandemic. This will allow many businesses to downsize or get rid of their physical spaces completely, which can help cut costs and reduce operating costs to increase profit margins.
Connected to this, we’re also seeing more and more coworking spaces opening up over the coming years. Such spaces allow workers to rent a desk if they prefer to work remotely from somewhere outside of their homes. Coworking spaces also offer conference rooms and offices that companies can use on a short-term basis.
Workplaces Will Focus More on Physical and Mental Well-being
With so many people stuck at home and inside over the past two years, physical and mental health issues came into the spotlight. Many people learned that taking care of their well-being was more important than work, and companies realized that a healthy work-life balance is an integral part of good company culture.
Because of this, many businesses will have to start offering more benefits in terms of overall health and wellness for their employees. These may include gym memberships, allowances for online exercise classes, and paid mental health days off. This will benefit both employees and their employers, as healthy employees are proven to be more productive.
Businesses Need Better Cybersecurity Solutions
Legacy VPNs may have been adequate cybersecurity solutions when only a handful of a company’s employees were working remotely at any given time, but they are quickly becoming outdated.
With such a high rate of people working from home and other remote locations, connecting to company resources via different devices and internet networks, the potential attack surfaces for cyberattacks on corporate networks are more prominent than ever.
Because of this, businesses are seeking more robust, modern cybersecurity solutions capable of mitigating the risks of cyberattacks with so many individuals working remotely. We will resume seeing the rise of unified cybersecurity solutions that include features like cloud-based VPNs and zero trust access control.
Check out: Top 10 Most Important HR Tech Trends in 2021