COVID-19 has forever changed how we approach work. When the pandemic began, Dogtown Media said goodbye to its Los Angeles-based development headquarters for the past decade. We left this office, moved the entire team to remote work, and don’t have any intention of going back. The future of work has changed, and we’ve changed with it. Here are the trends that I believe we can expect to see soon.
Remote Work Will Provide More Opportunities for Job Candidates
Moving to San Francisco used to be a prerequisite for working in the high-tech industry. Today, this is no longer the case. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies to figure out how to build cohesive remote work teams fast. And with this new change comes new opportunities.
Organizations will hire more remote workers than ever before now that they know how to get things done outside of an office environment. This is great news for many employees — it means they have better access to more job opportunities. But it also yields some other pertinent benefits worth mentioning.
Knowledge workers can now move to places they want to live, not somewhere they have to work. We can already see this occurring: A recent survey of tech professionals discovered that an average of 30% of respondents had left major metropolises such as Seattle and Los Angeles for greener pastures during the COVID-19 pandemic. Don’t think this trend will continue? Another survey found that 81% of tech workers are either considering or making plans to move to more affordable cities.
The financial incentives certainly play a role in this exodus. Remote workers earn $4,000 more per year than their in-office counterparts, and 30% save $5,000 more per year due to less commuting and eating at home. Moving to smaller, cheaper towns allows these employees to stretch their dollar even further. But if we put money aside, the advantages are still substantial. By choosing where they live, remote workers attain better control over their personal lives. Whether you want to get outdoors more or start raising a family, this is certainly an appealing factor.
Office Models Will Adapt to the Future of Work
On the other side of the equation, remote work also offers a significant financial benefit for organizations that embrace it: Companies can save $11,000 annually for each employee who works remotely half of the time. With that said, it’s no wonder that a Gartner survey of 127 business leaders found that 82% of respondents plan to maintain a hybrid or remote work dynamic after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.
While the same survey elucidated that 47% of business leaders plan to let employees work from home permanently, it also found that another 43% of respondents plan to implement a flexible hybrid work dynamic going forward. For example, some organizations will ask their team members to come into the office two or three days a week instead of five. This will transform how companies structure their headquarters and satellite offices.
Many enterprises are already restructuring how they’re organized. For instance, outdoor retailer REI recently sold its newly-constructed headquarters building to Facebook to pursue a more distributed work model. Known as a hub-and-spoke office model, this paradigm allows companies to shed office space and slim down headquarters while maintaining optimal productivity.
In a hub-and-spoke office model, a smaller headquarters (the hub) and satellite offices (the spokes) serve as locations for employees to congregate, communicate, and collaborate. Instead of long commutes, team members can meet at the hub or spoke that’s most convenient for them. This lean approach eschews large underutilized offices in favor of lean spaces that can accommodate employees who come in two or three times a week and work the rest remotely.
Every Work-Related Industry Hit by COVID-19 Will Reinvent Itself
COVID-19 has proven that change is the only constant in our lives. Although, for many industries related to work, adapting is easier said than done. Co-working and commercial real estate were hit particularly hard during this pandemic. Fortunately, both will bounce back — but it won’t happen without preparing for the future of work.
As companies move towards more flexible hybrid work dynamics and hub-and-spoke paradigms, office-on-demand models will make more sense for many organizations instead of overpaying for underutilized real estate. WeWork and other co-working spaces will be the biggest beneficiaries of this trend. They can provide these businesses with turnkey solutions and an intimate office footprint where team members can work together. In such scenarios, “hot desks” that employees coming in and out can use for the week will replace dedicated workspaces.
Commercial real estate will likely hurt for some time due to all of these pandemic-induced work changes. But it will eventually reinvent itself. This industry will pivot more to mixed-use buildings; a proportion of space will be reserved for industrial or work-related endeavors while the rest is used for residential property. With that said, I’m sure the day will come when a remote work employee has to attend a meeting at one of their company’s “spoke” offices, and it happens to be located a few floors down from their loft!
The Future of Work Is Closer Than It Feels
Several promising COVID-19 vaccines are being expedited to roll out to healthcare workers and the general population. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has even alluded to the possibility that we may all return to a normal semblance of life by this summer. But although COVID-19 may soon be in humanity’s rearview, its effect on how companies get things done will be everlasting.
COVID-19 has accelerated the future of work to an unprecedented pace. This means that we fortunately won’t have to wait long to see the fruition of these predictions. Are you ready?
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