Going Remote: When The Office Is Optional—Or Even Obsolete
Sometime in March of this year, it seemed as if the entire world shifted to a remote workforce. This went beyond just support centers where, in the past few years, many agents have been able to assist customers from the comfort of their homes. This was much bigger. Almost every company on the planet sent its workforce home. The remote office was not optional—it was mandatory.
But what if it wasn’t mandatory? Would you still want a remote workforce?
I’ve asked a number of business leaders these questions. The answers have been mixed. Some have said they can’t wait to bring everyone back together. They miss the camaraderie. They miss the synergy of meeting with a group and brainstorming new ideas, resolving problems and more. Others have said they won’t return to their offices. They have learned that their businesses can operate efficiently and productively without having the overhead of a fancy office.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the idea of a remote workforce was growing. Stats and facts showed that a majority of younger generations (Gen Z and Millennials) were more and more interested in working remotely. It’s predicted that by 2028, 73% of all departments will have remote workers (Upwork, Future Workforce 2019).
Sir Richard Branson said, “In thirty years’ time, as technology moves forward even further, people are going to look back and wonder why offices ever existed.” He didn’t come up with this in the last few months when almost everyone was forced to go remote. That quote came from a 2013 article Branson wrote when he noticed that technology was giving us an opportunity to communicate and collaborate with people on the other side of the world.
While many of us have been pushed into the remote office world in the past few months, others have been doing it for years. In some instances, the founders of companies made the conscious decision to not have an office, even though almost everyone else in their industry did.