How Covid-19 has Initiated the Remote Work Revolution
In the age of the smartphone and ubiquitous Wi-Fi, the practice of remote working has arisen and steadily increased in popularity amongst entrepreneurs and businesses the world over.
As an important part of this development, the virtual office and serviced office space industries have concurrently arisen in order to facilitate this evolutionary business need-that is, the need for flexibility.
However, with the intrusion of the Coronavirus into societies across the globe, the most fundamental aspects of human affairs have been rapidly disrupted-even at this still early stage of the pandemic.
Time to do your Home Work (-and you're Grounded until it's done)
While the social and economic consequences of the Covid-19 outbreak are only just beginning to be indicated; and are perhaps still somewhat dependant on the development of the pandemic as well as the reactions to it-the implications of Coronavirus on the conduct of work has at this point essentially been made clear:
Whoever can perform their work from home should do so (and very soon, will have no choice but to do so).
Since it's clear that this scenario is going to be the norm for the foreseeable future, the implications regarding the flexible work industry have not only become of vital importance to the workers already involved in it; but at the same time, they have – in an instance – become of universal relevance to businesses and workers around the world.
For an outbreak of this magnitude initially spawns social distancing… which inevitably mutates to lockdown-under the circumstances of which it becomes simply impractical – and for most people, undesirable – to be around one another unless absolutely necessary (and even the definition of 'necessary' will see mutations of its own during these times).
This is why part of the impact of the Coronavirus on the business world will be to damage what has been a booming co-workspace industry up until now: indeed, the headlines are reporting that a sharp decline in the rental of shared office facilities has already occurred across the globe-which of course is directly due to the pressing health-and-safety measure of avoiding situations that bring you into contact with many other people.
Although this trend will almost certainly not be a long-lasting one for the co-workspace industry – unlike the traditional long-term leased office, which could well be doomed after this – it is expected to have a considerable period of down time due to this crisis, during which it seems few people will be able or permitted to work from anywhere but their own home.
Home is where the Startup is
In terms of workspace, offices of all kinds are going to be in a state of disuse for at least the next few months; and more likely, for most of this year. Given the harsh but necessary nature of a lockdown, the home is going to become an office for pretty much everyone whose work is, or can be, done remotely (i.e. via mobile technologies and software).
It is therefore unsurprising that – coincident with the drop in rentals of shared office space – virtual office providers have seen an inversely proportional boost in sales for virtual offices. Virtual offices have of course been on the rise in this century, being specifically designed to serve the increasing needs for flexibility in today's essentially mobile and entrepreneur-friendly business world. But following the accelerating restrictiveness of the global anti-pandemic climate, the virtual office model of business will shortly become the only viable means for someone to start or run a business.
Remote Work: an Idea whose Time has Come
The practice of working from home has had a long-standing stigma attached to it-which, in a couple of words, is related to isolation and unprofessionalism. While technology has continued to make the feasibility and efficiency of remote working ever greater, many businesses have nevertheless been reluctant to adopt this innovative working model: Generally speaking, business owners and managers still hold to the traditional values of office culture, which they perceive to be of superior benefits than the newer flexible work models.
However, even pre-Corona, the trend towards flexible modes of work has clearly indicated that this indeed represents the future of work, upon which present and future business models will be based. Therefore, businesses that are clinging to the traditional business model (i.e. based on fixed-place office working) will – one way or another – ultimately be doing so to their own detriment.
At the present time – i.e. in the midst of Corona – the traditional form of office work is not only disabled for the moment, but the injury it sustains may very well prove to be permanent: As this global outbreak effectively forces the hand of businesses to down scale if not abandon their actual offices, the idea of remote work has suddenly been pushed to the front of the business (and social) agenda-and it's an idea that businesses can no longer ignore.
The Revolution will be Immunized
Now consider this: emergency measures enforced by governments are always promised as being temporary, i.e. that they will be implemented only for the duration of the crisis, after which they will be discarded as soon as possible. The historical reality, however, proves that this is rarely the case: in fact, emergency measures have tended to become permanent more often than not, i.e. even after the crisis has been and gone.
And so it seems that the Coronavirus will serve as the catalyst for a widespread adoption of remote work policies, thereby shifting the previously steady trend towards remote work into overdrive: Given the mobile nature of 21st century business and the historical tendency for emergency measures to become permanent, it's difficult to imagine anything other than a transformation of business culture to the remote work model.
Make no mistake: the Coronavirus has initiated the dawn of the Remote Work Revolution-so you'd better start doing your home work.