Long, long ago, in a place far, far away . . .

Long ago – 31 years ago specifically – I proposed to my manager at the time, Jess, that I work remotely, from home. There was really no task-related reason I had to be at the office each day. I worked primarily independently analyzing investment data and returns, presented a report once a month to management, and took on the odd assignment which was usually communicated via email, which was in its infancy.

I actually researched working from home, came up with all sorts of statistics and arguments for why it was a great idea and some proposals for how to make it work seamlessly which I organized into what I thought was a very logical, well-reasoned presentation.

Jess disagreed.

After some soul-searching, much conversation and budget calculations, I left that job and began my self-employed, entrepreneurial journey. And also began the search for alternative work locations such as private offices, what is now known as coworking and conference rooms.

Little did I know that I was not alone. Employees have been asking to work remotely for many, many years, and awareness of remote work has continued to grow, but the recent pandemic changed attitudes from “want-to” to ”have-to” and businesses the world over had to shift to a new paradigm of remote work. The statistics are stark (1):

  • Estimated jobs able to be done entirely remotely prior to the pandemic: 37%
  • Estimated jobs done entirely remotely prior to the pandemic: 6%
  • Estimated jobs done entirely remotely during the pandemic: 35% (including 75% of professional occupations)
  • Estimate jobs done partially remotely during the pandemic: 30%
  • Estimate jobs to be done entirely remotely post-pandemic: 20%
  • Estimate jobs to be done partially remotely post-pandemic: 21%

Obviously, if we combine the fully remote and partially remote workers a full 41% of the workforce expects to work at least partially remotely going forward.

So how and where will all these workers actually work and what are the unintended consequences of remote work?

Well, technology certainly helps, but is only part of the answer. It is estimated that 82% of employees feel that they have adequate technology to work remotely. But challenges still exist.

Besides the kitchen table and in-home offices (both of which can be problematic for privacy and a “professional” appearance) many remote, yet not-at- home options are available ranging from private office suites to shared office concepts to part-time offices to coworking that can all accommodate different professions based upon their need, usage and budget.

Private office suites, shared office organizations and coworking can provide the professional environment at a reasonable expense for those employees and entrepreneurs caught in the middle.

The challenges that remote work sometimes cause: lack of engagement, supervision, teamwork, expense of remote space, etc. will all be areas that have to be addressed going forward. But the genie is out of the bottle.

I suspect my conversation with Jess might turn out much different now. Just goes to show you what 30 years and a pandemic will do to change our perspectives!



(1) NCCI Holdings, Remote Work Before, During, and After the Pandemic, Quarterly Economics Briefing, by Patrick Coate – Q4 2020, Posted January 25, 2021




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