Even before the coronavirus hit, remote working had been steadily increasing in many countries around the globe. For example, the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank1 found that over the last 30 years, remote working in the U.S. has grown 7% yearly. Despite that growth, only 7% of U.S. civilians currently have access to a “flexible workplace” benefit, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.2
Many organizations, therefore, have largely stayed true to the idea of the office workplace—that is, until COVID-19 hit. One reason for this could be that many established businesses have foundations that were built in the last century, and the corporate world is still primarily defined by the baby boomers—a group that entered the workforce before mobile phones, personal computers and the internet even existed. For them, the office is where work is done, and the very concept of remote working may raise concerns over productivity and motivation.
Which is why many organizations have not enabled remote working as part of their business as usual before now. Those organizations that were still largely built around an office-based model are the ones that have had to scramble the hardest in recent weeks in the drive to set up remote working capabilities.