The AccSoc Press Article by Annie Wu

As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the world, businesses were forced to shut down their offices and rapidly adapt to remote working. The shift to Working from Home (WFH) required managers and employees to embrace innovation and uncertainty in the changing circumstances, turning to technology as the new means of communication and collaboration. Despite the ensuing chaos and uncertainty, the gradual return to ‘normalcy’ has fostered a discussion between corporate circles on the permanent future implications of remote working. 

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The shift to remote working has had mixed successes in different industries. Some have thrived, finding innovative ways to improve productivity and facilitate teamwork over virtual meetings on programs such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Others have struggled to cope with the distractions and the lack of motivation and human interaction associated with working in their home environment. A survey conducted by Statista in May found that 43% of full-time workers in the US would like to work remotely more often, due to the flexibility and productivity of WFH.

The positive implications of this technological shift have already been realized by companies such as Twitter and Facebook who have developed plans to transition into hybrid business models as a consequence of the coronavirus. This hybrid model would allow some employees to work from home on a permanent basis, with other employees returning to a traditional office setting. Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, revealed his plans to “aggressively” open up remote hiring, moving towards a hybrid model where he expects that half the company’s workforce will work remotely within the next 5-10 years. Zuckerberg expressed his enthusiasm regarding the role of this hybrid business structure in improving employee retention, productivity and flexibility. 

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Twitter has also identified the potential benefits of WFH in reducing travel hours, business expenses and carbon footprints associated with renting office spaces. As a result of the successes of remote working, Twitter has announced its plans to offer employees an option to work from home permanently, adapting a similar hybrid structure.

Whilst the hybrid business model has already been implemented in companies prior to COVID-19, the restrictions brought on by the pandemic have encouraged more companies to improve their understanding of technology and how it can be utilised to develop services that facilitate connection and intimacy in the modern world.

Evidently, extensive planning and analysis is needed to work out the kinks of implementing the hybrid business model on a large scale. Investment into new digital tools and technological support for employees will be necessary, however this is a much needed change in consideration of the modern global business environment where barriers of time and space have threatened our ability to remain connected. 

Whilst a vaccine is yet to be found, the emergence of positive digital work practices and technological innovation provide a sense of hope in these challenging times.