It looks like working from home is here to stay. The US and the entire world had a crash course in remote working with the onset of the Covid 19 pandemic. All in all it seems to have gone remarkably well from both the employee and employer’s point of view. In a recent survey by Global Workplace Analytics, 97% of North American office workers worked from home more than 1 day/week during the pandemic (88% globally); 67% had not worked remotely on a regular basis before COVID-19 (69% globally). That is a dramatic, if not unprecedented, shift in office dynamics.
Not only did they work from home, many think they were more productive. Of the employees, 73% say they are very successful working from home (68% globally). They are not alone. Their managers are just as satisfied with work performance as employees, 70% report the same or better results.
I look back on why this transition was so “easy” for so many of my colleagues. The fact of the matter is, I began my career as a remote worker in the mid 80’s when I joined Andersen as a young auditor. While we did not work from home, we packed up (remember the big black trunks) and worked at the client site for the majority of our time. It is hard to imagine now, but that was possible in the days before, cell phones and email.
Technology has evolved dramatically and makes remote working ever so easy. However, there is a need for the comradery and efficiencies of an office environment. Most employees get this. That is why the survey concluded North American employees want to continue working from an average of 2.5 days a week (2 days/week globally).
We are still in the midst of the pandemic and everyone is adjusting to the work from home environment. It is safe to say that we will never go back to the typical 5 days a week at the office. However, as time goes on we will need to find ways to stay connected. As humans that means face to face and meaningful interactions are required. We saw that over 30 years ago at Andersen.
While we were often deployed to client’s locations for weeks on end, at crunch time we were often in the Andersen office where we could quickly and effectively marshal all the resources we needed. Today, we could use any number of the video conferencing platforms to assist, but at some point it sure is rewarding to sit face to face with your colleagues to collaborate and share experiences together.
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