‘Will we snap back?’: Economist predicts working remotely here to stay

Miami Valley News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — A year after the pandemic hit, some companies are making a return to the office, but it’s hardly back to business as usual.

Everyone seems to wonder what the future of the work place could look like, and experts say remote work is here to stay in some form.

“Will we snap back? No. I don’t think that we will.” says Rebecca Ryan who is a top 50 futurist and economist. “Traditionally people have thought work is where you go, but the truth is work is what you do.”

The pandemic has changed the way businesses think about work.

“In the early days, all the research suggests that we didn’t really lose a beat,” says Ryan.

A year ago, companies shifted to working remotely, and they’re not shifting back.

“The limiting factor in remote work prior to COVID was managers–managers who said if I can’t see my employees how do I know they’re working? To which I always say how do you know they’re working anyway?” states Ryan.

A year in, managers have seen the productivity, and many companies are navigating a future with more flexibility. For some, daily meetings have become a thing of the past.

“Our ability to put meetings on other people’s calendars is one of the real knives in the heart of productivity,” says Ryan, who emphasizes that employees want autonomy.

Experts say about 56% of the workforce can work from home, and the majority of people want a hybrid arrangement.

“We’re still in the ‘architect-ing’ phase. We’re going to try some stuff. It’s not going to work, but wise leaders are going to keep at it because they recognize the increased engagement, increased productivity, decrease in friction. We are at a cusp of a major shifty in employee happiness, engagement, and productivity,” says Ryan.

Re-designing the workforce also means re-structuring office space. With vacancies and some buildings empty, it’s chance for companies to re-utilize that unused space to allow for a hybrid model.

“Everything is going to need to be on wheels. Everything is going to need to be mobile and flexible,” states Ryan.

While work spaces have gotten smaller over the years, experts say we will see a reversal of that trend making personal office space bigger for purposes of safety and social distance.

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