Lives and businesses have been changed because of the pandemic. There’s been non-stop talk about “the new normal” or how the coronavirus pandemic will forever impact our personal and professional lives. Work-from-home policies are naturally a cornerstone of this discourse. Since it is safer and more practical, remote work has been an important enabler of business and economic continuity under the current situation. It may continue to be so in the future.

According to a recent report, many employees will be able to work from home permanently in the future. Despite the global crisis, employees say that working from home improved their productivity and job happiness, resulting in huge profits for their companies. Aside from this, businesses can save even more money by allowing remote work.  By converting roles from physical to virtual, businesses can save an average of $11,000. It’s simple to understand why remote work might be the foundation of the future of work, especially with such amazing business and interpersonal benefits on the line.

However, it’s important to remember that work is something you do, not where you go. One’s professional success shouldn’t rely on a location. When we’re working from home, we’re not saying that home offices are superior. Because if we are, aren’t we still saying that success is dependent on a location? This is the essence of a modern workplace. 

When we work, we don’t have to be someplace in particular. Instead of working in an office, we may go to a coworking space or a library, or perhaps just sit in our living room. The objective is that we are trusted and empowered to do our best work no matter where we are. The location should be a daily choice and not be a lifestyle commitment when we can just use mobile equipment such as computers, software, and internet connections.

Rather than talking about where we’re going to work after the pandemic settles, perhaps we could focus on how we’re going to work as a society instead. No matter where we work, we need to ask ourselves what lessons have we learnt from the sudden shift to virtual that we wish to apply in the future? 

Accessible Virtual Workplace

If work is something we do, rather than somewhere we go, then we shouldn’t have to go anywhere to get the items we need to do what we do. As absurd as that sentence seems, we just need access to our workplace’s resources while away from the office, and virtual workplaces provide that. The days of waiting till you get back to the workplace to accomplish a given task or have a certain conversation are over. Today, information management is assisted by software rather than file cabinets. Unrestricted access to the workplace is essential for true business continuity.

Real-time Communication 

Teams that are geographically separated can’t have their work be affected by where they are or what time it is. 

Today, it is possible to start up just where you left off five minutes or five days later when using asynchronous communication channels like email, Slack, or Google Doc comments. A transparent, continuous flow of information sharing is a characteristic of a modern workplace. 

Results-Oriented Tracking

We may not admit it, but traditional office management strategies rely on sensory-based cues. For example, when we see an employee at their desk typing away or hear voices coming outside of the meeting room. Even ringing phones confirm productivity. Because of this, many leaders are unable to gauge productivity when they lack access to visual checks. But sensory criteria measure activity, not genuine success. That’s why modern managers should focus on outcomes such as deliverables, learnings and reports. This allows employees to demonstrate their productivity both with and without supervision.

In other words, the “new normal” isn’t a world without offices. It’s a world where we prioritise work over the office.