Covid-19 will have many lasting effects on the world.  The novel coronavirus disease will be integrated into society and some people will get it each year, much like the flu we are so used to each winter.  It has also ravaged small businesses without having the same effect on larger companies that have deeper pockets to help weather the cashflow storm.  The effects of Covid-19 will truly run deep.

But one type of company did not have its operations affected.  While many scramble to adjust to quarantine orders, companies which were already fully remote like Automattic, makers of WordPress, TodoistWerkington and others quietly maintained business as usual without interruption.  They already have the policies and procedures in place for quarantine. 

And while bars, restaurants and barber shops were forced to shutter their doors, big tech companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft had to scramble to set up work from home policies and to build the data security infrastructure necessary to keep operations running with their workforce remote.

Remote work is still new for most companies

After the initial scramble, however, this period gives these companies a chance to test remote work.  And the smartest companies will monitor productivity in this period and compare whether working from home helps workers be more efficient, less efficient or equally efficient.  And when they do, they will learn that while some workers thrive in an office environment, others do better, faster, and cheaper work from the comfort of their own home.

Enter the hybrid remote work model where jobs are offered as in-house or remote at the discretion of the job candidate.  Some companies, like Coalition Technologies already offer this option, letting Los Angeles employees work in an office, while also considering remote workers.  This opens positions up to a national or in some cases a global talent pool letting fast moving companies get the best talent to get the job done and letting workers choose the work environment which works best for them.  

What are the benefits of having a remote team?

Having at least a portion of your workforce remote has these benefits for employers:

  1. Safeguards companies against adversity caused by events like Covid-19
  2. Reduces overhead as employees provide their own office space and electricity
  3. Expands recruitment reach offering a larger talent pool
  4. Provides increased productivity for the right type of worker
  5. Offering the option of remote work provides increased employee satisfaction

So while quarantine has forced many employers to test drive offering remote work, data and public opinion will help many employers choose to keep a portion of their workforce remote.  Remote work is especially useful for several groups as well: those caring for children, those caring for a parent or relative and those with a chronic health condition especially benefit from remote working opportunities.  

In the case of parents and those caring for relatives, there is the possibility of companies offering remote work at select times in one’s life.  For instance parents may benefit from working remotely while their children are young and then may become in house workers again once their children enter school without skipping a beat.  Those caring for the sick at home may benefit during periods of intense care.  Instead of taking time off of work to do these activities, those who want should be provided the option to keep their jobs while working remotely. 

Remote-friendly tech is on the rise

Covid-19 based advances in remote working technology will also help speed up the growth of remote work.  Many large tech companies rushed to advance video meeting technology during Covid-19 quarantine.  As the nation locked down for quarantine, companies like Facebook, Zoom and Google poured cash into advancing and securing their remote video communication technologies.   This advancement in video conferencing options makes meeting and collaborating within a remote office easier than ever.  Security issues like Zoom bombing caught national headlines, but also had the benefit of getting these tech giants to think about patching up security holes.

But it’s not only office jobs which can be done remotely.  The healthcare industry is also ripe for remote work for many types of medical issues.  Healthcare providers like Sharp Healthcare started to offer video based doctor appointments for most patients. Technology even exists to perform surgeries remotely, and although not specifically built to address Covid-19, if it comes to long term or periodic lock downs this type of technology may become mainstream.

Conclusion

So the infrastructure for a remote workforce for some types of jobs is here today.  The benefits of remote work are clear for some workers.  And in the years to come, we will see companies leveraging that infrastructure at an increasing rate. 

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About the author:

William Ellerman is representing Werkington – a platform to help connect remote companies with work from home talent, to help workers find remote jobs with one another and gain education about remote work.  He has 15 years of professional experience and has worked both in house and remotely, most notably as Sr. eCommerce Analyst for AutoZone and Sr. Marketing Manager for Business.com. He has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Elizabethtown College with a minor in Professional Writing.  He is certified in web development from San Diego Continuing Education and in AdWords and Analytics from Google.

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