Impacts and Trends of Remote Work Environments

2020 shaped the world in a way that no one ever anticipated. In addition to the myriad of health and economic repercussions, the COVID-19 pandemic also disrupted workplaces – forcing businesses to shift to remote work environments.

As the U.S. implemented social distancing and quarantine protocols, many companies needed to build an entirely new infrastructure – one that didn’t require employees to commute to a physical office. Even before the pandemic hit, many businesses were offering remote work options as a way to foster work-life balance.

According to Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics, approximately 56% of the American workforce now have the ability to work in a remote capacity. Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, an estimated five million Americans had the flexibility to work from home in addition to their normal in-office schedule. With corporations moving to an entirely distributed workforce over the past year, let’s take a look at how it has impacted the remote landscape.

How Has the Shift to Working From Home Impacted Businesses?

Joel Block of Bullseye Capital mapped out several implications of having the majority of the workforce in a remote setting over the last year. Although there are a wide breadth of impacts – both positive and negative – affecting the economy, here’s a look at some of the main trends.

The Lack of Daily Commuting

The good: With the shift to remote life comes an immense decrease in the number of people making a daily commute into the office. Not only is this saving employees valuable time and money, but it’s also providing environmental advantages as well. Less cars on the road equates to less gas emissions and pollutants infiltrating our breathing air.

The bad: Now that people are conserving dollars normally spent on gas, and, in a similar vein, avoid traffic tickets, it’s having an unforeseen economic impact – decreasing oil company earnings and vehicle-related taxes collected, as well as the ability for police (and similar personnel) to fund operations that depend on revenue from ticketing.

Less People In Office Buildings

The good: Many business owners and leaders now realize that the physical presence of employees in the office is not the secret ingredient to success. It has forced companies to get creative in how they engage employees, connect with clients, and carry out internal workflow. The result? Businesses are conserving dollars normally spent on leasing office space, as well as the subsequent overhead of running an in-office operation, such as internet access, computers, telephones and more.

The bad: With businesses shifting away from traditional office environments, property owners are losing tenants at a harrowing rate. If this trend continues, it will have large-scale implications for property owners, banks and mortgage companies. Without space being leased, building owners are vulnerable to bankruptcy.

The Impact on Urban Areas

The good: With more people staying inside due to social distancing protocols, restaurants are experiencing a massive increase in home food deliveries. People are still craving their favorite foods and meals, but since they’re unable to sit indoors, they’re opting to use apps like Seamless and Uber Eats to satisfy cravings.

The bad: Restaurants unable to hop on the delivery bandwagon are taking a massive hit, losing 50% or more of their normal day-to-day foot traffic. Coffee shops and thrift stores, in particular, are seeing a significant decline in sales, forcing many businesses to permanently shut their doors. One of the biggest emerging trends businesses are leaning on to overcome this challenge is a shift to a more eCommerce-focused strategy.

Spend Is Being Redirected to the Suburbs

The good: With many families opting to leave city homes for their own safety and well-being, there’s been a large uptick in people now living in suburban areas. With at least 5% of city dwellers moving out of urban environments and into the suburbs as a result of COVID impacts, local businesses and economies in smaller towns are seeing a significant boost.

The bad: The mass exodus from large-scale cities like New York City begs the question – will suburban neighborhoods become overcrowded? The real estate market is already seeing the impacts with property values shooting through the roof. Will this ultimately push residents out of the neighborhood due to price increases?

With all the new and emerging trends in the world of business and remote work, it’s important to ensure your company is set up for long-term success.

Whether you need permanent or temporary staffing solutions, to implement new microlearning and microengagement tools or a strategic business consultant in your corner, MercuryHub’s team of experts are here to help you every step of the way. Contact us today to learn more.

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