McKinsey Explores the Post-Pandemic Future of Remote Work

Various businesses and organizations were forced to quickly switch to a remote work model in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Now that vaccines are available, many are wondering if companies will continue allowing employees to work from home, and whether they will allow employees to work from home a few days a week, or whether they will revert back to their old policies.

Naturally, there is no universal answer to this question. The way in which employers decide to address the issue of remote work will vary on a case-by-case basis.

However, a recent McKinsey report does offer some insights regarding what the future of remote work may look like. Employers should consider how these insights impact various decisions they may need to make in the coming years and months.

The first conclusion worth studying indicates that, while there are some industries and occupations in which permanent remote work simply isn’t feasible, it appears greater than 20 percent of the current global workforce could theoretically continue working from home at least three days a week without any negative impacts to productivity. Workers who will not be able to work remotely will be, for example, those whose jobs require direct daily collaboration with others, or whose work tasks must be performed on location. Sectors and industries that are most likely to continue offering substantial remote work options to employees include finance, insurance, and management, among others.

The relevance of these finds in the context of your own business or organization will depend on the type of work you do. If you’ve already shifted to a remote work model, you have to assess how this change has affected your company in the past several months when making decisions about how to move forward. You also have to consider employee attitudes. Research has indicated that employees who have the option to work from home at least some of the time tend to be more engaged than those who are required to come into the office and adhere to a set schedule.

Like many employers, you may decide to allow some of your employees to work from home, while requiring those who cannot perform their duties at home to come into the office, whether every day of the week or only a few. This may impact your decisions regarding, for instance, the size of your new office. If a substantial portion of your workforce may be able to continue working from home, your current office might be larger than you need. There’s little reason to waste money renting office space that’s larger than necessary. As such, you may decide that moving to a new office is a wise financial decision in the long run.

Regardless, if you’re an employer, there is a good chance this is a topic you will need to consider moving forward. For some, remote work is here to stay. If that’s the case at your company, you need to think about how this change will affect everything from your choice of new office to your compensation methods and policies.