The COVID-19 pandemic changed our understanding of jobs. Now that the vaccines are offering a safe back-to-office possibility, do workers want to keep the remote work?.
The Woman Post | Valentina Ibarra
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In March of 2020, the world as we knew it changed completely. Quarantines became our new normality and working from home was suddenly a constant thing. We learned how to use different videoconference tools and our complete life was adapted into virtuality. But now vaccines are offering a way out, we should ask ourselves: are we going completely back to office work? Or will the aftermath of the pandemic include the different alternatives that are now available?
It is important to remark that lots of jobs could not be adapted to virtuality because of their dynamics. According to McKinsey, remote work is concentrated in highly skilled and educated workers within a handful of industries and geographies. Approximately 20% of workers could work as effectively from their homes and their offices. In addition, the Pew Research Center found that 62% of remote workers have a bachelor’s degree and the majority are in the upper-income group. Even if it does not look like a lot compared to the gruesome workers, it would mean four times more people in remote work than before the pandemic. It shows a big shift in our understanding of jobs.
Still, it is important to see which jobs can maintain this dynamic. In the same investigation, McKinsey found that the sector with the biggest potential to continue in remote work is finance and insurance: three-quarters of their jobs can be done remotely without losing productivity. In contrast, sectors like agriculture, accommodation, and food services can only do 8% of their total work remotely, showing that re-openings are inevitable, especially now with massive vaccination.
Also read: REMOTE WORK CAUSES A MIGRATORY WAVE
Furthermore, McKinsey also found that the possibilities of remote work are also affected by the country of reference. Between 20% and 26% of workers in the UK, Germany, US, Japan, and France can work remotely 3 or 5 days a week, while only 5% and 11% of workers can do the same in India and China, respectively. This is especially interesting because countries with higher opportunities to have remote work are also the most advanced with vaccination. So, places where presence is a necessity to keep productivity have fewer guarantees to do it without COVID-19 contagion risks.
But now looking towards the future, countries with massive vaccination can give us insight into how the world is going to function after COVID-19. In the UK, for example, 42% of workers are back at their desks, according to Morgan Stanley. Bloomberg also mentions that in Israel, a firm of co-working called Labs reported 95% capacity in their building. These numbers show that returning to office is going to happen, the lift of restrictions allows the old dynamics to return. But are workers happy with the idea of remote work ending?
An investigation made by the Pew Research Center found that more than half of the remote workers would want to keep working at home even after the pandemic is over. But still, big companies like Google are setting the pace to fast returning. But considering that not all workers want to get vaccinated and the existing preference towards maintaining the remote option, there is a need to implement hybrid work.
Moving forward, companies should take into consideration the preferences of workers. Full virtuality is not going to continue, but the learnings acquired should not be completely erased after the pandemic is over. Some areas can maintain their productivity in this modality, so it should be an option. Our lives were completely changed by the quarantines, so the new normality must include the changes that worked for the better, including remote working availability.