The COVID-19 pandemic changed many things about the world at large, one of the most notable for the workforce is the discovery that many jobs can be done from varying locations other than the original worksite including from the worker’s own home. Working from home has revolutionised the workplace in many ways, some of which we will explore below.
Before the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was pretty much set in stone that all positions were face-to-face in an office, warehouse, factory, etc. Once COVID-19 struck in late 2019 and the words “lockdown” and “restrictions’ ‘ started getting bandied around, employers had to start thinking about alternative employment arrangements. The National Skills Commission conducted research at the height of the pandemic, which found that 39% of Australian jobs can be effectively done remotely. With 19% of Australian workers even today saying their ideal work environment is entirely virtual with 75% stating they would prefer a hybrid working environment, a mix of face-to-face and virtual. A global survey of 32,000 workers across 19 countries found that only 10% wanted to go back to traditional workplaces.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees were forced to start working from home daily, myself included. This led to both employees and companies getting more technology savvy. Where before my knowledge of computers was essentially just what was required to complete my daily tasks, COVID-19 forced a shift.
Suddenly I was required to learn to be more independent, alone at my computer without having a colleague shouting distance when I did something that I wasn’t sure of. Australians have had to improve their technological knowledge and have realised the availability of programs such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams to keep in regular contact with the office.
Many employees were forced out of their comfort zones during the COVID-19 pandemic and had to start thinking of different ways of doing things. Once they realised that they were highly capable, they started thinking outside the box about how they could do their jobs differently but more than that, about how others could start doing their roles differently as well. For those wanting to continue to see change, undertaking a Graduate Certificate in Workforce Transformation would be an excellent new career opportunity. With the slogan “change isn’t going to come. It’s already here.” Undertaking such a course will allow workers to learn to readily adapt to continued changes in an ever-evolving employment landscape.
Benefits Of Remote Work: Employees
With an ever-evolving employment landscape being the way of the future there are many benefits to employees for remote working or even hybrid opportunities. Location is no longer an obstacle for many roles, allowing you to consider opportunities that would previously have been ruled out by the distance of the commute, or the need for relocation. Now the flexibility to work from anywhere makes that dream role more possible to achieve.
Once you have obtained the role, the opportunities to be involved in projects and meetings around the country, or even the world, are increasingly accessible, and therefore career progression is even more achievable. Along with other factors such as learning and development opportunities within the organisation, reduced commuting, and flexibility of work-life balance. Research through technology firm Cisco has found that working from home saves the average Australian $10,000 a year, meaning that more and more employees are likely to approach their employer for a flexible working arrangement.
Benefits Of Remote Work: Employers
Having a remote workforce is not just beneficial to employees but also to employers. The NSW Government has found that offering remote opportunities to employees gives the company instant access to more skill and expertise, along with additional factors such as higher staff retention due to having a workforce that feels respected and trusted.
This has the add-on effectiveness of increased job satisfaction, employees feeling valued, and increased productivity with companies reporting increases as high as 35% since engaging in a flexible working environment. Additionally, there are likely to be fewer sick days as employees feel more able to continue their normal duties without needing to push themselves to go into an office. Not to mention the biggest factor, the reduction of costs. If you have a remote workforce then you are spending much less on office rent, facilities, cleaning and maintenance, and meals and entertainment for the team.
While looking at all the facts and benefits above it becomes clear COVID-19 may have been the catalyst for changes to the modern workplace, and that those changes are here to stay. All employees and companies can do is get on board and continue evolving into the future, keeping abreast of changes and looking into the benefits for their organisation of an increased work-from-home workforce.