Would work from home become the new normal?

“So when we found the cure and were allowed outside, we all preferred the world we had found, to the one we’d left behind”

This line from the viral video The Great Realisation, by the British artist and poet “Probably Tomfoolery” had me wonder if we would really prefer the new world, the new order of things once the COVID crisis subsides. This is especially a curious thought when it comes to the new normal for companies worldwide, of having their employees work from home.

Late last week, the e-commerce giant Amazon told its corporate employees to work from home until October, suggesting that this would apply to “any employees who work in a role that can effectively be done from home”. This move shows that it is not just about protecting its employees from the virus, but also the company’s acceptance of the work-from-home policy.

However, Amazon has always been quite ahead when it came to work flexibility. A lot of other companies are only now realizing that working from home is actually possible and could be sustainable for a longer time period.

Zillow, a real estate listing platform is another such company that made waves with its unprecedented move of allowing its employees to work from home for the rest of 2020. The CEO of the company, Rich Barton even tweeted saying, “My personal opinions about WFH have been turned upside down over the past two months.”

In fact, Nationwide, the insurance and financial services company has announced a permanent adoption of a hybrid model with work-from-office at its major campuses and work-from-home for the rest of the locations, with an aim to get 98 per cent of the workforce to work from home.

There are still the issues of productivity, connectivity and security when it comes to a work-from-home work scenario. A lot of people don’t have the appropriate setup to sustain working from home on a longer term. Additionally, there are still a lot of jobs that require physical presence and work-from-home is often not a viable option for many.

However, this COVID crisis might allow a lot of people to bring into focus the important things in life and get the companies to evaluate offering the long-overdue flexibility in work, for its employees. It seems to me that if companies and employees really put their heads together, a solution that is cost effective for the company and productive for the employees, is definitely possible.

The COVID pandemic has clearly had dramatic effects on people, perspectives, nature and just about everything. And while for some companies it might be more difficult, some businesses might even be in trouble and some workers might still have to be present physically, companies have finally discovered the value and sustainability of having at least some of its employees working from home.

It seems to me however, only those who will quickly adapt to this new normal, will survive, and those still looking at the world we would leave behind after this pandemic is over, will be left behind.

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