With just a laptop and access to the internet, ‘office’ work can be done from the comfort of our homes. Technology has advanced far enough that people can work anywhere and at any time. For example, at a café while enjoying a cup of coffee, during commutes, and even when we’re in a different country. Since the start of the global pandemic in January 2020, working remotely has been implemented by most organisations through using applications such as Zoom, Skype and MS Teams. Fast forward to 2-years (Present time: May 2022), Covid-19 restrictions have been steadily being lifted around the world. Signalling the beginning of the end for the pandemic. So, how has the pandemic changed the way we work? What were the benefits of working remotely? Will these changes last?
When we think of where work should be done, usually images of cosy office spaces come up and where our personalised decorated desks are located at. The office is where most, if not, all our resources are located at. It was a no-brainer to work at the office for most of us. However, with the pandemic spreading rapidly around the world, many organisations had to adapt. Investing heavily in more online systems and finding ways to coordinate work effectively online. Since then, we live in a more interconnected world than ever before, and we proved that some if not all our work could in fact be done from home.
Working remotely does have its advantages; for example, it provides employees with more flexibility and opportunities to spend more time with their family members. Making use of technology during these troubling times allow many employees to keep their jobs and ensure the organisation remains afloat. Technology has been the saving grace during this pandemic. Although working remotely has its advantages, some critics suggest that employees also feel as if there is no separation between work and family life. Which is doubling the stress for many employees. The home is often seen as a safe space and a boundary where the demands and stresses of work are left behind. However, technology has blurred this line significantly.
Restrictions are easing but returning to the office could potentially be delayed by the emergence of a new and more dangerous variant of the covid-19 virus for instance. This would result in more restrictions to be implemented by governments and would prolong the pandemic situation further. For the moment, it would be reasonable to implement a hybrid working style in organisation, as we slowly transition back to normalcy. As the name suggests, hybrid working styles make use of both remote and physical modes of work to strike a balance between the advantages of working from home and minimising the risk from the virus. This would persist until the pandemic is officially declared ‘over’ by the World Health Organisation and by local/ international governments.
In my opinion, remote work should be seen as an alternative option for conducting work and NOT a temporary solution during pandemic times. The lessons learned from the pandemic have shown how fragile our organisational systems are. We should embrace these technological advantages and further develop them to best suit our needs while enhancing our productive capacities. There should also be checks and balances to ensure that such implementation would induce the benefits stated while preventing abuses of the system from occurring. Time will tell whether these implementations would influence the way work is done in the future, but I am optimistic that it would lead to further innovation on how work is done in the 21st Century.