If you asked me what I would be doing in April at the beginning of the year, just like many of you, I would’ve told you I would be enjoying the spring weather, spending time with friends and family, going to the gym, and continuing with business as usual. Never in my wildest imagination would I have thought we would be where we are today, practicing social distancing, being instructed to stay home, bringing our office set-up home to work, teaching our children at home, cancelling weddings and travel plans, avoiding hand shakes, catching up with friends virtually via Zoom, watching Church services online, and wearing masks and gloves to the grocery store to stock up on necessities (don’t forget the toilet paper)!

The Effect Covid-19 Is Having On The Economy

Today we live in a world where restaurant servers no longer have a job, non-essential medical providers and childcare workers are being furloughed, hair salons, nail salons, and retail stores are all closed leaving their employees without a paycheck and many owners unable to pay next month’s rent. According to the latest Labor Department data, In the month of March alone, American’s have filed close to 10 million unemployment claims, and this number will continue rising. Economist Heidi Shierholz predicts that 20 million Americans will be out of work by July, which will mark the worst unemployment situation since the Great Depression.

From The Cubical To Working Remotely

Insurance agencies, law firms, and real estate agencies have all traditionally housed employees in the office for years, without a second thought. With the ever increasing change in technology, we have more capability than ever to work from anywhere in the world, and hire anyone in the world so long as they have the tools necessary to insure they will succeed in their chosen position. In a very relevant book I’m currently reading, “The End Of Jobs,” the author, Taylor Pearson touches on this by explaining that only 10-15 years ago, if a company was looking to hire an employee with a specific skill set, they would put the word out in their personal network, and post an add to some local job boards in hopes to hire someone qualified and local. Today, we’ve come so far with communication technology that the same company could use platforms such as UpWork, People per Hour, and Freelancer to hire the very best talent for the position from around the globe, and without the geographical limitation.

Even with this opportunity, many companies have been slow to adopt remote work. As someone close to me says, “in order to make a change you must have a force acted upon you to change your course.” Many companies have never had a reason to explore remote work. What they have always done by having local employees in the office from 9-5 has always worked just fine so why fix what’s not broken? The economy has been booming since the end of The Great Recession back in 2009, so during one of the biggest phases of communication technology growth, employers have not been hit with a force to change the way they’ve been operating.

Covid-19 has forced many corporate businesses to scramble to find a way to set their employees up to work remotely from home. Many of these companies were not prepared, as they have been operating smoothly for the past decade without a bump in the road and without the possibility of a recession in their minds. As employers and employees settle into their new respective routines, many employers will inevitably realize they can perform at the same level as before without their employees being in the office physically.

Remote Work Is Here To Stay

“One of the secret benefits of using remote workers is that the work itself becomes the yardstick to judge someone’s performance”

Jason Fried, Basecamp

The Covid-19 pandemic is making companies and employees more comfortable about working outside of the traditional office. While some positions, such as CEO’s, doctors, and business owners may still need to report to an office for meetings or to see clients, many of their employees do not. Employers are realizing that by hiring employees remotely, they have the flexibility to search for the very best talent for the job, regardless of physical location.

Companies will save money by hiring remote workers. They will not have to provide space for them in an office building, so they can rent or own an office building with less space, or even headquarter the business out of their own home. Often, a remote worker provides his or her own office equipment and supplies, so you no longer have the responsibility of providing your employees with a computer, phone, etc.

To me, one of the most beneficial reasons for employers to move to a remote work model, is that it will also lead to a Results-Only Work Envornment (ROWE). This concept was developed by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson, founders of the consulting firm CultureRX, and they published their approach in their 2008 book, “Why Work Sucks and How to Fix it.” The idea is that an employee’s performance is measured by output and work produced, rather than presence in the office and hours worked. During the Covid-19 pandemic, employers are already likely finding which employees are viable to the success of the company, and which employees are not producing at a high enough standard, who they may decide are no longer needed in the future.

Moving Forward

Today is a great time for both employees and employers to begin thinking about remote work and the opportunity it can bring. In every bad situation, there is a silver lining, and we needed something to open our eyes to new possibilities in the way we do business. With all the technology we have in today’s world, we need to utilize it to the fullest for an efficient work and business environment. It’s time for employers to think outside of the box and realize the benefits of keeping fewer employees in-house, and more employees working remotely. Employees need to be prepared for the day they’re no longer needed in the office. Jobs may be eliminated, especially during these uncertain times, so stay adaptable for when the time comes and your job may become remote, or you may lose your job and need the skills to work remotely in the future. We’re all in this together and we will get through it and be stronger for it, but stay smart, educate yourself, and prepare for what the future of your field holds.

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