The Working World: What’s Next?

It’s safe to say that since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve not only been thrown into a drastically different environment from what we’ve previously experienced: we are also in the midst of what will be the foundation for a radically different future.

If there’s one thing anyone can agree on in the year 2020, it’s that we are living through history. The world will no longer be what it might have been, had the events of this year never happened. But what does that mean for the workplace? For office life?

Since the state of emergency was announced in early March, businesses and companies on a global scale have had to either shut down temporarily (in some cases, indefinitely) or adapt quickly to what the new world had to offer: a life from home. Workplaces that might have never worked from home otherwise were quickly forced to turn entire companies to remote working, with little time for preparation. The catch? It’s been successful. Maybe even more successful than anyone might have previously thought.

As we adapt to a new norm of social distancing, online resources, and apps such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and have been particularly helpful in facilitating engagement among employees. Connecting team members from a distance, and ensuring that companies can stay on track with conference calls and office meetings, while also allowing staff members to stay connected with each other and maintain bonds with those experiencing similar circumstances.

It also eliminates the need for a commute, which let’s face it, is a pretty motivating factor in and of itself.

While many people are enjoying the lifestyle and benefits that remote working has offered them, employers and CEOs of companies are also reaping the benefits of having their staff work from home.

They’ve actually seen the productivity of their employees increase, while also eliminating the costs needed to run and maintain office spaces for staff. That’s not to say that working remote hasn’t had its struggles, or that it’s been a smooth transition to all, but it is a promising glimpse into where the future of the workplace is headed.

CEO of Shopify Tobi Lutke is making strides in the current situation, by announcing that his company with over 6000 employees will continue on as a “digital by default” company, using the current difficulties as an opportunity to advance into something that will change the face of the working world.

“COVID is challenging us all to work together in new ways. We choose to jump in the driver’s seat, instead of being passengers to the changes ahead. We cannot go back to the way things were. This isn’t a choice; this is the future” – via twitter @tobi (Tobi Lutke)

This isn’t to say there won’t be modifications for those who don’t want to (or aren’t able to) make a full switch to the working from home concept – office spaces will still exist, but rather than having it be the primary workplace, Lutke says his offices will “move from using the internet as a bridge to the office” and will instead “act as an on-ramp to the same digital workplace that you can access from your #WFH setup.” – via twitter (@tobi)

“There are silver linings,” said Lutke about the transition of his company to remote work. “we now have the opportunity to be joined by a whole lot of incredible individuals from around the world that otherwise couldn’t because of our previous default to proximity.” – via twitter @tobi 

The opportunity to hire more people due to the economic savings that will come from the elimination of large office leases, and the maintenance that goes into them, and to connect people to jobs on a global level, could really be a game-changer for economic growth around the world.

Rather than employees having to relocate (which is often costly), people can search more in-depth from places across the country (or in some cases, around the world) for the best fitting job. This also allows employers to hire people of varying education, skills, and walks of life to bring forth new ideas and help the company realize the best it has to offer in the working world.

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