When covid-19 hit and the country enacted widespread social distancing measures, the nature of the traditional workplace seemed to change overnight. Technology was already changing the way we work. The office our parents were accustomed to had expanded to employees’ homes, shared conference rooms, and the neighborhood coffee shop.
Though remote work was on the rise prior to the pandemic, the experience of the last few months has accelerated its large-scale adoption, evolved corporate attitudes toward it, and shaped employees’ expectations for greater flexibility.
The pandemic has amplified several trends already prevalent in the workplace: the growth of the dispersed workforce, the proliferation of digital engagement, and the rise of the subscription economy. Together, they are ushering in an era of a rapidly emerging work environment that promotes business agility and growth through a mix of on-site and remote employees, modern digital experiences, and on-demand access to software and solutions.
According to “Insight 2020 Intelligent Technology Pulse: The Impact of COVID-19 on Business Readiness,” enterprise IT professionals understand we have the technology to work from virtually anywhere. They note, rather than threaten business continuity, remote work is essential to promoting it, and further believe flexible work environments will play a more central role moving forward. As one respondent put it, “remote workers are going to be the new norm for our company.”
Equally important to business leaders, employees are onboard with more remote work. According to PwC, almost three quarters (72%) of US employees now want to work remotely at least two days per week, with one third (32%) preferring to never go to the office. Similarly, Gallup reported in April 2020 that 60% of Americans would prefer to continue to work remotely once public health restrictions are lifted.
The pandemic has only heightened these expectations. According to Accenture, the forced approach to remote work during the worst of the pandemic will fuel a massive and further shift to virtual activity. “Anything that can be done virtually will be. Winners will be those who test and explore all of the associated creative possibilities.” In other words, digital engagement is here to stay, likely becoming the ante to play for most businesses from this point on.
Read Insight’s full report and understand the implications of the changing work environment.
This content was produced by Insight. It was not written by MIT Technology Review’s editorial staff.