Sometimes the industry analysts come down from their ivory towers with research findings that surprise the rest of us.  This is not one of those times.  Over the past three months there has been an unprecedented surge in work from home (WFH) and mobile workforce.

Most companies and organizations are well beyond the initial panic mode / survival mode that arose from the Coronavirus pandemic.  Some dealt with it better than others.  All are making plans for the future.  Probably one of the biggest takeaways is that the need for remote communications and collaboration tools to enable WFH and mobile workforce is not going away.  According to a recent survey of over 2,600 global employees, up to 30% of the workforce will be working form home for multiple days each week through 2021.  Perhaps even more startling, the same survey found that 77% of the workforce wants to work from home after the Coronavirus.

A separate Gartner Survey of over 300 CFOs discovered that three-quarters of companies will move at least 5% of their onsite workers to permanent WFH environments.  Millennials, in particular, seem to be drinking the remote working kool-aid.  Why go to the office when everything you need is right at your fingertips already?  The State of Remote Work report from Buffer, a social media company, discovered that 98% of respondents desired to work from home at least on a part time basis for the rest of their careers.

Of course there are two sides to every story, and industry analysts, collaboration pundits and real estate investment companies are mobilizing to tout the importance of the traditional commercial work environment.  In a recent CNBC story, Jonathan Woloshin, a real estate analyst for UBS, said “We believe it is too early to write the epitaph for the entire office sector as there are a number of counterbalancing forces at work.”  Other commentators are arguing that the traditional benefits of team work, friendship, and collaboration simply aren’t as attainable in the WFH setting. 

Over time the market will dictate the future of teleworking and mobile workforce.  But in our view, the Coronavirus pandemic is accelerating the already-strong underlying trend towards WFH, and the initial data certainly seem to show that if the decision is up to the workers, it won’t slow any time soon.


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