While many companies have made the commitment to complete a digital migration over the last 10 years, there is still much speculation regarding the future of work. Due to Coronavirus (COVID-19), what was written two weeks ago no longer applies. We’ve entered a new normal. And, its impact will be lasting. The reasoning is complicated but not un-obvious. People are already feeling the financial impact. Despite the surge of consumerism in certain areas, many businesses are suffering. When businesses are hurting, things start to change. Here are a few ways COVID19 is influencing the future of work.

Remote work is here to stay.

It has taken the digital age a long time to make employers comfortable with the work-from-home concept. While many have resisted implementing such policies, there’s no longer a way to avoid it. Businesses with remote work policies are better positioned for business continuity. Many people over the next few weeks or possibly months will experience what work-from-home success feels like. While some may crave going to the office and having face-time with peers or superiors, most will appreciate their improved work-life balance. Currently, employers are not seeing a true representation of productivity for remote workers. Parents are managing homeschooling in addition to their daily workload because of school and day care closures. Once families settle into their new lifestyles, it’s likely that business productivity will increase in the absence of office chatter. Meaning, the future of work may be at home!

Freelancers are on the rise.

The gig economy has been gaining popularity over the last 5 years. Freelancers and contingent workers have highly desirable skill sets allowing them to produce high quality work. Employers have historically leaned on these workers for short-term projects and during seasonal spikes. By engaging more freelancers, businesses can scale up or down more easily. This ensures fewer burdens in times of economic slow-downs. In the wake of the current COVID19 crisis, there is a sense that employers will create a better balance of freelancers and full-timers as a part of their overarching talent management strategy. This allows for flexibility within the organization so they can quickly adapt to unexpected circumstances. That agility is something companies won’t want to lose after the Coronavirus (COVID19) passes.

Younger generations are on the move.

The world isn’t just more digital, it’s becoming more mobile. Mobility has always been attractive to newer generations entering in the workforce. Hungry for experiences, they want to travel the world. The ability to work from wherever it is they want to be at any given moment is meaningful to them. Thanks to this drive, entrepreneurship is on the rise! Think about it. If you can successfully create a digital product or app that allows remote collaboration, why work for anyone else? Organizations need to compete with this premise. More people are entering digitally inclined positions that come with the promise of mobility and freedom. That is true for freelancers and full-time employees. Roles like social media managers, developers and web designers are often work-from-home positions. COVID19 is helping us learn what additional titles we can add to that list for the future of work.

Can we be Virtually Virus Free?

From an employer’s perspective, readying a staff who can operate at maximum capacity from home means they are better equipped to handle the next pandemic or national disaster. For many, there is fear and anxiety that once we make it through this crisis, something similar could happen again. Businesses who did not have emergency management plans and policies in place are updating their standard operating procedures. Creating new ways for job functions to operate virtually will lessen the burden on tomorrow’s workforce. There’s even talk about sending our avatars to work in the not so distant future! The idea feels as surreal as the current state of affairs.

Like it or not, these modern demands of the workforce are not going anywhere. In fact, it would be detrimental for businesses to expect things to go back to “business as usual.” Now is the time to plan for the future of work.