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The New Digital Workplace

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The Covid-19 pandemic end is in sight. In the United States, businesses and individuals alike have adapted to a new normal. That new normal, you may have guessed, is a hybrid between traditional and virtual—with work, businesses, milestones and even relationships maintained virtually, using the many digital tools at our disposal. Not only are we all now accustomed to Zoom meetings, but FaceTime birthday celebrations and video-conference retirement parties have become the standard way to socialize and commemorate special occasions. It’s a brave new hybrid world.

And now, it’s become clear that that the hybrid world is here to stay. As reported in a January New Yorker article, global advertising and marketing agency R/GA conducted a series of internal surveys that found that not only did 30% of supervisors believe employees were actually more productive at home, but employees were envisioning remote work becoming a permanent option. The article then went on to detail how certain companies are altering their plans for physical office space going forward: smaller satellite locations versus large, centralized hubs; fewer (or no) individual desks and cubicles, to be replaced by shared, reservable workspaces; fewer enclosed, dedicated conference rooms and more generalized public spaces for collaborating.

Meanwhile, The Atlantic recently published a piece about how the meteoric rise of remote work, fueled by the pandemic, is already leading to a redistribution of talent across the country, as information workers move out of coastal metropolises and into the Sun Belt, Midwest, and Southeast cities. In fact, the article notes that venture fund Initialized released a recent survey finding that 42% of its firms believe starting a remote company is better than being headquartered anywhere, compared with just 6% thinking so last year. “What if the next Silicon Valley is nowhere—or, just as precisely, everywhere?” writes the author.

At WAHVE, we’re at the forefront of this movement. We’ve always understood the power and value in remote work—and the power and value in a diverse talent pool. Perhaps one of the only silver linings of this terrible health crisis is that many more businesses have been forced to embrace these things in a much more meaningful and impactful way. As the trend continues, I expect we’ll see many more companies instituting policies around:

  • Flextime and non-traditional work arrangements, including contract and Part-time work
  • Work/life balance benefits, such as providing ergonomic desk equipment, virtual on-demand exercise classes, childcare coverage, and more
  • Fully remote teams and remote-team management
  • Expanding the definition of “talent pool” to include all geographical locations and age groups

We may not know exactly what a post-Covid world will look like. But I think we can all agree that whatever shape it takes, remote work will feature prominently in it.

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