Coronavirus Crisis Likely to Change Work as We Know It, Experts Predict

Chriss Swaney

Sarasota, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – As the coronavirus continues to spread, more workers are heading back home to set up shop to perform their daily duties, according to Scott Warrick of Scott Warrick Human Resource Consulting, Training & Coaching Services and Employment Law Services.

“Telecommuting is absolutely here to stay as a result of this virus,” said Warrick. “The key to a good office is to make use of whatever space you have,” Warrick added. Whether it’s a stair landing, a small closet, or an unused corner of the living room, workers are scrambling to set up home offices as more companies close and order workers to stay at home.

“This whole outbreak is going to change how we work forever,” said Robert Strauss, professor of economics and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University. “Schools and businesses are going to have to step up their game because technology is now available for setting up economical home offices,” said Strauss.

Even before the pandemic struck, remote work was accelerating in the U.S. The share of the labor force that works from home tripled in the past 15 years, according to the Federal Reserve. Two of the accelerants are obvious: living costs in metros with the highest density of knowledge workers and technology, such as Slack and Microsoft Teams, that moves collaboration and gossip online.

But industry analysts warn that companies and their home-based employees must learn that remote work is different. For example, managers will have to get better at judging productivity by setting and monitoring specific goals rather than using the proxy of office attendance.

“When working at home you must learn how to divide the day from personal time and civic or family life,” said Warrick.

Experts also warn that employees will have to develop new habits, such as keeping copious documentation of every meaningful work interaction so that teams across space and time are always up to speed on what’s happening down the hall.

Census estimates show that the percentage of the workforce working from home the majority of the week grew from 3.3 percent in 2000 to 5.3 percent in 2018, and is growing faster than additions to the workforce. And a recent survey of 2,000 working professionals and 1,000 hiring managers by Linkedln found that 82 percent of workers want to work from home at least one day per week, and 57 percent want to work from home at least three days per week.

“This rise has also been aided by improved internet connectivity and the demand for more flexible work environments,” said Warrick. A 2017 report by polling company Gallup found that work-from-home options help companies retain their employees and improve employee productivity, and it’s becoming a perk with few drawbacks.

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