Work from Home Trends One Year After COVID Began
Just as hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs launched businesses in the wake of the Great Recession, the same is happening in during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some might believe that it is insane to start a business during the pandemic, but the reality is that applications for new U.S. businesses are rising at the fastest rate since 2007. University of Maryland economist, John Haltiwanger, indicates that the “pandemic is actually introducing a surge in employer business startups that takes us back to the days before the decline in the Great Recession.”
Economic Growth for New Entrepreneurs and Businesses on Horizon
While running a small business is certainly challenging even during the best of times, doing so during the pandemic comes with additional—and unique—challenges. As a result, many of the entrepreneurs who struck out on their own will shut down their business ventures within five years of launching them.
Yet, despite these headwinds, there is hope for entrepreneurs. The infection rates are down, and, in response, cities and states are easing restrictions on businesses—from restaurants to retailers. This is leading to a rush of economic activity not seen since the onslaught of the virus a year ago. At the same time, one of the repercussions of the pandemic is that it opened up new market opportunities that didn’t exist before. Solopreneurs and small businesses are certain to be key beneficiaries.
For many of the new businesses that entrepreneurs formed over the past few months, work from home remains the reality. Plus, for many entrepreneurs, paying big bucks for a permanent office or workspace doesn’t make sense—even once the offices reopen. Many organizations have already codified plans to reduce their office space and shift to hybrid work environments that include work-from-home arrangements. Approximately one year from the start of the pandemic, following are some prevalent work-from-home trends:
1. Remote Work Becomes Permanent
Many organizations have already codified plans to reduce their office space and shift to hybrid work environments that include work-from-home arrangements. Per a Gartner CFO survey, almost three-quarters of organizations plan to move employees to remote work after the pandemic ends. While many of them are big tech companies, various other business sectors are making the same decision. Much of this remote work depends on the ability of professionals to work from home.
2. Hybrid Work Environments
While some professionals will work from home all of the time, others will do so only part of the time. These hybrid work scenarios consist of some days where teams will work from home, and other days that require in-person meetings. The latter may consist of new project launches, team-building exercises, brainstorming sessions, and client meetings.
3. Remote Work Requires More Engagement
One of the challenges of remote work, including work-from-home scenarios, is that it often is more difficult for professionals to highlight their achievements and collaborate with colleagues. The use of virtual online meeting and collaboration tools help break down the walls for professionals working from home. Just as entrepreneurs and businesses have embraced various digital tools for virtual meetings, collaboration, project management, and more during the pandemic, they will continue to do so once it wanes.
4. Managers No Longer Doubt Remote Employee Productivity
While the number of businesses with remote employees working from home was growing before the pandemic, the percentage skyrocketed a year ago. One of the key reasons businesses and managers held back on turning to remote work was that they didn’t trust their employees. But COVID-19 released the genie from the bottle, and few believe it can be stuffed back inside. Rather than measuring employees based on the time they spend in a workspace, businesses and managers realize they must evaluate workers based on outcomes—and they discovered workers feel empowered and are actually more productive working from home.
5. Digital Tools for Worker Performance
As businesses and managers no longer can measure workers based on time spent in a permanent workspace, they must use other means for doing so. To maximize employee efficiency, businesses and managers need visibility over what their workers are doing. Digital tools like Time Doctor, Timely, and TransparentBusiness are some of the ones to which they have turned. Project management tools also play a critical role, allowing managers to know exactly what their employees are working on and the status of each of their projects. Each of these enable continuous feedback and help workers achieve their performance goals.
6. Cybersecurity Increases in Importance
In its “Future of Secure Remote Work Report,” Cisco found that 85% of organizations said cybersecurity is “extremely important” or “more important than ever.” This makes a lot of sense: Work from home creates greater cyber-risk exposure. Home networks simply aren’t as secure as business offices. Plus, an array of cloud applications are being used by businesses. As a result, entrepreneurs and businesses must ensure their workers, data, and devices are protected. This not only requires the right technologies, but it also necessitates the right security processes. And while many professionals have been working from home for the past year, their businesses cybersecurity practices have not completely caught up in many instances.
7. On-demand Coworking Space and Rented Space
Businesses and entrepreneurs will rely on on-demand workspace more than ever as the pandemic eases and the economy is reopened. Providers like Davinci Meeting Rooms that make it seamless for business and entrepreneurs to search for and book coworking space, day offices, and rented conference rooms across all major business locations around the globe will play a critical role. Some businesses may want to meet once or twice a week as a team. Others may need on-demand space once a quarter for meetings that may last one day—or all week. Circumstances will vary depending on the nature of a business.
Tapping the Opportunities of Work from Home
COVID-19 will have an irrevocable impact on our personal and professional lives. One of the aspects of change is work from home. Workers have thrived over the past year, logging more hours while increasing their productivity. Businesses and managers found their fears of workers shirking their responsibilities were ill-founded. As the pandemic dissipates, workers and businesses alike will continue to reap the rewards of work from home by tapping capabilities like on-demand workspace and meeting rooms. For new entrepreneurs and businesses, the pivot to work from home can be a catalyst for growth.