The future of work has always been the subject of countless research papers. Be it the changing nature of jobs themselves or job security in the face of rising machine intelligence, answers have not been easy to come by. Now, in the aftermath of COVID-19, for companies and employees, it is the workplace which has become the centre of attention.
Already grappling with an unplanned lockdown, companies have done the best they can to function by getting employees to work from home. Of course, for some businesses or professions, it is easier than the others. Work from home may make imminent sense for consultants, software developers or even financial analysts, but even for traditional industries, there may be lots of jobs that can be done fairly efficiently from home.
Of course, there are several hurdles that might have to be crossed along the way including dealing with data security issues that clients might not be comfortable with, especially those who operate globally. But where there is a will, there will emerge a way.
So, after this long spell of lockdown, while many employees might be increasingly looking forward to getting back to the office, if some companies do carry out their plans, then the definition of ‘office’ for a lot of employees might change for good. As the cover story of this edition points out, many companies are seriously considering work from home as a permanent fixture for a large part of their workforce.
While employees, overall, may love the idea, for it allows for more family time, relieves us of traffic woes, and saves us travel time, for companies there is even stronger reason to redefine from where we work.
It’s about cost, of course. Companies are always looking to cut flab and COVID-19 might just have given them the excuse to go all out in an economy which was anyway in the doldrums. WFH is a weapon with which you spend less to please employees! If the blip becomes a trend and companies do stick to their plan, then it could have far reaching ramification for commercial real estate players. But, that’s a story for another day.