The modern world has been trending towards remote work for a long time, but the coronavirus might be a turning point for organizations. Offices all around the world are encouraging their employees to stay home and avoid large gatherings in the hopes that they might prevent further spread of the virus. New guidelines are being added to employee handbooks and conferences, events, and meetups all around the globe are canceling.
Research indicates that the coronavirus, COVID-19, is both more deadly and more contagious than the flu. It can linger in the air for at least 30 minutes and can travel up to 15 feet. Not only that, but it can survive on surfaces for days making it highly transmittable. Scientists are fascinated by the way the virus spreads as it seems to infect certain people while passing over others. The estimated death rate for the flu is just shy of 1% and the death rate of the coronavirus is currently at 3.5% in the United States and a whopping 5% in Italy. Likely the death rate will end up being lower in the end due to many asymptomatic or low symptomatic people who never realize they have it or get tested. Those affected tend to be the elderly or those with autoimmune disorders. Put simply, the coronavirus is more deadly and more contagious than the annual flu. (Geraghty).
It turns out that working remotely was the norm once upon a time. Think about it, before the industrial revolution almost all jobs were remote jobs such as skilled blacksmiths, carpenters, leather workers, potters, and more. It wasn’t until the need for automation and the creation of factories that people were required to commute to designated office spaces. It was just after World War II that these office spaces really began to take off. Large headquarters started popping up with cubicles and 8-hour workdays became the standard. Technology continued to advance with computers, Wi-Fi, and the cloud making it not only possible but easy to get the same work done from anywhere in the world. (We Work Remotely).
If you’re a manager of any sorts this is probably the first question you asked. It’s often believed that employees are more distracted when they are working remotely or that they might cut corners or produce less quality work. In fact, the opposite is true. Employees who can work remotely typically have more flexibility with their schedules, have higher engagement rates, and are significantly more productive. Happier employees mean happier customers and lower turnover which improves the bottom line. Studies show that once an employee switches to remote work they almost never want to go back, in fact, 90% of remote workers plan on working remotely for the rest of their careers. (We work remotely).
The coronavirus is spinning up more and more talk about remote work and how it fits into different organizations and industries. Odds are that this will end up being a wakeup call for organizations and employees alike. Video conferencing has already become widespread and easy to use and now that there is a need for employees to stay away from the office it will become even more commonplace moving forward. Here at AWH, working remotely isn’t that different than being in the physical office. We already use video conferencing and work with clients outside of our geographic area, and we have found it incredibly beneficial for our developers to have an opportunity to work uninterrupted for long periods of time. We are lucky because we don’t need to be in the office to continue serving our clients. If or when the coronavirus sweeps through Columbus, OH, our clients won’t even know the difference.
Geraghty, Jim. “Yes, Coronavirus Is Worse Than the Flu.” National Review, National Review, 10 Mar. 2020, www.nationalreview.com/the-morning-jolt/yes-coronavirus-is-worse-than-the-flu/.
“Learn More about the History of Remote Work and Where It’s Going!” We Work Remotely, weworkremotely.com/history-of-remote-work.