The Future of Work is Socially Distant in the Age of COVID-19 (and Beyond?)

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For most of human history, work has been an inherently shared activity with most types of jobs being performed in settings where groups of co-workers interact. However, there is a rather significant subset of job roles that lend themselves well to being performed by remote and the rising percentage of remote workers in recent years attests to this fact. Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, many workers who may not have been permitted to work via remote before, are left no other choice but to telecommute full time. It is a logical conclusion that after the crisis has abated, the future of work may favor a longer-term movement in all industries to permit, or even promote remote working as an option. How might this effect workforce management practices?

First the numbers. According to special analysis performed by remote job search site FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics, the US has seen a pronounced increase in the number of people working by remote. Between 2016 and 2017 remote work grew by a healthy 7.9%. Over the last five years, the remote work growth rate clocks in at a whopping 44%. And over the last 10 years remote work has grown an eye-popping 91%! As of the writing of the FlexJobs/Global Workplace Analytics report in early 2020, a full 3.4% of the entire U.S. workforce is comprised of remote workers; up from 2.9% in 2015.

With the adoption of remote work already accelerating, the future of work during and post COVID-19 will almost certainly require workforce managers to embrace the trend. What does this look like in a practical sense? Some likely scenarios.

Greater Engagement of Project Work through SOW Engagements | Organizations had already begun to leverage SOW and project labor for non-essential or non-core projects. Commonly encountered in the IT and information systems design area, the future of work post Coronavirus will likely see a large uptick in the volume of non-core tasks being outsourced to SOW. This is almost always work easily performed via remote workers/teams. Now would be a good time to explore how SOW labor can be effectively applied in your organization.

Increased Utilization of Freelancers and Human Cloud Sourcing | For the foreseeable future, organizations will be restricted in their ability to source new contingent labor. With non-essential workplaces being shut down in many locations (and the number of locations still expected to grow), organizations will have to be creative when it comes to engaging talent. The good news is that many freelancers and contractors connected to the Human Cloud are already proficient at offering services and delivering work via remote. For companies not yet leveraging these two talent channels, now is a good time to learn how it is done.

The Utility and Convenience of Remote Work Will Remain After the Disease is Vanquished | For employers and workers alike, there are great benefits to the remote work arrangement. For employers, the benefits include quick access to available talent and reduced costs associated with maintaining physical workspaces. For workers, there is a distinct quality of life benefit derived from ditching commutes, flexible scheduling and increased productivity that comes from managing one’s own work schedule.

The future of work is decidedly more reliant on remote work even without the specter of this pandemic. For employers this means not only learning how to engage these types of workers, but also additional considerations related to IC classification, payrolling, tax reporting, benefits administration and others. For help leveraging the trend in effective, compliant and cost-effective ways, reach out to nextSource for expert guidance on embracing the future of work (but only metaphorically and from at least six feet away).

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