The COVID-19 pandemic has changed remote working patterns globally over the past six to seven months and it seems that for some countries, like Indonesia, the phenomenon of remote work will not end yet, especially considering that the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic is currently at its peak.
The rapid global spread of COVID-19 has prompted companies to switch to working from home, now relying more on technologies that facilitate remote work, in an effort to maintain business continuity. For many companies, this is the first time their employees have had to collaborate and communicate virtually through digital technology.
But what happens after the pandemic? Will the phenomenon of remote work continue? How will the major changes in workplace behavior that we see today affect the way we work in the future as the pandemic begins to ease? What can we expect from implementing technologies for remote work moving forward? We will look at three general predictions that are worth examining.
Prediction 1: Remote work will continue
Many believe that this shift in working patterns to remote work or working from home will be a more permanent change, rather than a temporary one. In fact, a survey conducted by the global research firm, Gartner, involving 317 Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) and finance division leaders within companies, found that 74% of corporations planned to move their employees that used to work at the office to remote work permanently after the COVID-19 pandemic. The biggest driving factor of this permanent change is the cost-saving benefits of working from home. This stems from the use of various technological solutions that are currently being widely used by companies to support remote collaboration, be it SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions such as Microsoft 365 and Cloud Contact Center, or infrastructure such as SD-WAN. These technologies have been proven to reduce operational costs, including the cost of renting office spaces.
At the same time, there are a number of financial benefits for employees, such as saving on commuting and eating at the office, among other expenses. If they can be optimized by minimizing disruptions to work productivity, these financial benefits will certainly convince many companies not to return to traditional ways of working, even once the pandemic is over.
Prediction 2: Technology will continue to play an important role
As mentioned previously, organizations are increasingly relying on technology to enable employees to work remotely without disruptions. During the pandemic, we are witnessing a growing need for virtual workplace solutions that help teams collaborate, communicate and operate. Once employees are accustomed to moving physical meetings to conference calls and video calls, or collaborating with teams through digital workspaces, many see huge benefits in the efficiency, convenience, and transparency of working online.
Similarly, various offices are starting to facilitate social activities in the workplace, internal communication, and casual conversations between employees online through platforms such as Microsoft Teams. With a digital workplace that fully replicates all elements of an office-like work environment, many companies will choose to use this as a long-term solution and as part of their work methods in the ‘new normal’ era.
Prediction 3: Strengthening work from home policies
On the other hand, a large number of employees also choose not to work from home, either due to various disturbances at home or limited work spaces or internet connection at their residence. Several companies in Indonesia are now implementing shift working arrangements in the workplace, where team A and team B will work remotely or in the office on different days or weeks. This requires companies to introduce appropriate remote work policies to ensure that the work culture is maintained and that operations run efficiently with employees working in distributed teams.(*)