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The Future of Work 2020: Physical Offices Vs. A Distributed Workforce

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​The concept of remote working has been around ever since the domestic introduction of the internet, rising in popularity as internet reliability and accessibility increased. Even before the pandemic, many British companies had remote working policies in place, Adam included. We found that giving our employees the option to work around them worked well for our business and eased our transition into lockdown.

The pandemic has forced all businesses to adapt their working practices without notice, and it is important to remember that the situation that we found ourselves in was not the norm. When remote working policies are introduced, they are usually done so in a more organised and thoughtful manner.

A physical office

Many companies believe that their company culture thrives on collaboration and innovation, and that this can only be achieved when all their employees are under the same roof, and have access to technologies that they may not be able to utilise remotely.

Research has appeared to show that there were some major disadvantages to working and conducting meetings remotely. Decisions often take longer to be made, and employees are not as engaged and become more distracted during meetings when they are not in the same space.

Humans are very social creatures – a need which phone calls, email, and even video conferencing cannot fully satisfy. This appears to be supported by the situation in 2020 - during the lockdown measures, increased feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anxiety were reported by a workforce largely working from home.

A remote workforce

There has been an indisputable rise in the number of employers offering remote working policies, and the huge uptake in remote working from both employers and employees even before the pandemic begs the question – why?

With the development of better technologies that make working remotely easier, faster, and slicker, virtual communication is easier than it has ever been. In Buffer’s State of Remote Work 2020 Report, an overwhelming 97% of remote workers said that they would recommend it.

Organisations are increasingly using the option of flexible or remote working to retain employees and attract new talent, as a long commute is often the reason for a rejected job offer and and overwhelming amount of workers have considered leaving an organisation because it did not have work flexibility.

Many employees who work remotely also report higher productivity, and remote workers generally have higher morale, better motivation, and are happier at work. It isn’t just mid- and lower-level employees that want to shift to more flexible working practices, as over a third of the senior management who took part in a Hoxby surveystated that they had wanted the option to work remotely, but had felt pressure to be present in the office.

Twitter recently announced that they were going to adopt remote working for all their staff that are able to do so, indefinitely, and when big tech companies such as Twitter jump, many more follow – Spotify, Google, and Shopify have already extended their work from home policies into 2021, Facebook has extended its remote working policy to the end of 2020 as part of a long-term shift to remote working, and Barclays boss Jes Staley has stated that he believes “a big city office may be a thing of the past”.

We believe that this will mark a shift to more flexible and remote working in the future. For a more in-depth analysis, you can read the full reporthere.