For many workers, the impact of COVID-19 has largely hinged on one question: Will I be able to work from home or will I be tied to an office? Quarantines, lockdowns and nuanced isolation have forced millions of people around the world to work from home, accelerating an office experiment that struggled before the megahit of COVID-19.
Now that the epidemic is well underway, the limitations and benefits of telecommuting are clearer. Although many people are returning to the offices because the economies are reopening- the majority could not work remotely at all – managers have shown in audits that the confusing patterns of telecommuting among some workers will continue.
The contagion has broken through the artistic and technical walls that have historically prevented remote work and caused a structural change in the workplace for at least some people.
Now that vaccines are waiting to be approved, the question is how long will remote work last? Based on the framework of the McKinsey Global Institute for Robotics, artificial intelligence and the Future of Work, we extend our models to look at where work is done.
According to their analysis, the possibility of remote work is mostly concentrated, and most recognized among educated dedicated workers, occupations and geographies.
More than 20 per cent of the workforce could work three to five days a week as efficiently as in an office. However, this would mean that three or four times more people would be working from home than before the epidemic, and this would significantly affect the household and transport if remote work took over.
Remote work creates many problems and challenges for employees and employers. Companies are considering how to elegantly provide guidance and configure workspaces to improve employee safety, among many other complex questions raised by COVID-19.
At the same time, workers seek an elegant balance between home-work and equip themselves for working and collaborating remotely. The possibility of telecommuting depends on the mix of activities accepted in each profession and their physical, spatial and interpersonal environment.
First, we estimate with theoretical scope the extent to which effort can ever be exercised. This depends on whether the employee must be physically present to perform the task, interact with others or use task-based service work or equipment.
Many physical or manual activities, as well as those that use specific equipment, can be done remotely. These include furniture maintenance, operations department, use of laboratory suits, and recycling of customer care within stores.
In contrast, activities such as how to gather and process information, communicate with others, guide and comfort and provide information, can theoretically be done at any time.
In addition, during the epidemic, employers have accepted that while some tasks can be performed in extreme conditions, they are far more efficiently performed in person.
These terms include guidance, reassurance and advice and suggestions; building connections with clients and colleagues; bringing new employees to the company; negotiating and providing critical opinions; guidance and training; and jobs that benefit from collaboration, such as invention, problem-solving, and creativity.
However, if induction were ever to occur remotely, significant redefinition would be required to create things that correspond to personal achievement.