The coronavirus epidemic has brought many changes in society and the way we work is among the main ones. People are discovering the benefits of working from home and it seems many want to stay that way even after the pandemic.
A recent survey by IBM showed that 54% of the 25,000 adults surveyed in the US would like to be able to mainly work from home, while 75% said they would like to have the option occasionally. Once stores and offices reopen, 40% said they would like their employer to offer remote work options.
But moving towards a more remote workforce could require more than a simple change of location -- it may require the use of soft skills to continue to be productive and successful, IBM argued. Adaptability, time management, and the ability to work well on teams are some of the most crucial skills in the workforce today.
So far more than one million people in the US have tested positive for coronavirus, according to tracking at John Hopkins University. More than 65,000 people have died, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The fast expansion of the virus has led to many states implementing lockdown measures, with companies closing down their offices and asking people to work from home. Nevertheless, not all areas in the US economy are actually ready to operate remotely, studies have shown.
Researchers at Tufts University in Massachusetts evaluated 42 countries' abilities to move to remote work based on the robustness of key platforms, the ability to facilitate transactions digitally, and the resilience of internet infrastructure against traffic surges. And the US still has issues to deal with.
The US scored high in all categories, but researchers identified a need to improve internet infrastructure to account for traffic surges. Over the long term, researchers said, changes need to be made to increase internet speed and fill gaps between poorer, more rural areas and wealthier urban and suburban areas.
Despite the challenges, the fact that many people are working from home has had its positive effects. A survey by YouGov showed that 54% of the respondents said they are now more productive than when they were working at the office, thanks to time savings from commuting, fewer distractions, and fewer meetings.
“As folks do start to go back to work in offices and resume their commutes, I think individuals are going to be thinking through what parts of this COVID phase of life are they going to want to keep,” said in a statement Maria Flynn, CEO of Jobs for the Future, a nonprofit.
Some states are starting to reopen retail businesses that were initially deemed non-essential and forced to close. Other states are still devising plans of how their reopening should look and returning to an office will depend on individual states' decisions.
In New York City, the epicenter of the outbreak, sending people back to work in their office would force people back onto public transportation. With the potential to spread the virus, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the subway would close from 1 a.m. until 5 a.m. beginning on May 6 so it could be cleaned daily.