During this post-peak era of COVID, the path toward resuming a more “normal” routine is starting to open. But many aspects of our daily lives will be forever changed—one of them being the way we work.

Media outlets reported heavily on the stresses of pandemic parenting and Zoom fatigue, but surveys of executives and employees alike show that working from home is here to stay.

Here’s more on why that is and what you can expect going forward.

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Although stressful, many workers with children at home during the pandemic expressed appreciation for the improved flexibility and work-life balance.

Remote Work Was Already on an Upswing.

There’s something to be said about cutting out commutes and having the flexibility to get in a good workout on your lunch break. Some companies had started offering the option of working from home at least part-time as a perk. Proponents of this arrangement pointed to studies showing increased productivity and higher employee satisfaction.

Younger freelancers were significant drivers of this trend, with the gig economy attracting 40% of Millennials and 53% of Gen Z.

Even before the pandemic, it was estimated that 70% of the workforce would be working from home at least five days a month by 2025.

Future Working From Home Pandemic Accelerated Voice Conferencing BDI
Video conferencing technology like Slack and Zoom provided employers and employees with new methods for staying in touch and on task.

The Pandemic Accelerated the WFH Movement.

Although not all jobs can be performed remotely, office workers were most easily able to adjust. According to a McKinsey report, more than 20% of the workforce could work remotely three to five days a week just as effectively and productively as if they were working from an office, if not more so.

Meanwhile, the ability to work remotely changed how some workers thought about their homes. Some left metropolitan areas for more suburban areas with lower living costs, where they could be closer to family and purchase larger homes with enough space to accommodate dedicated home offices.

After the pandemic hit, interest in backyard sheds, particularly premium models that could be converted into workspaces, went up 400%.

Now it’s Here to Stay.

One study found that 76% of employees hope to remain remote at least part-time, post-COVID. Several tech companies — Facebook, Google, Twitter among them — announced that employees would continue to work remotely indefinitely, and 89% of executives responding to a survey said they expect many or most of their employees to keep working from home.

To help employees adjust to the shift, some companies have started hiring executives with expertise in remote work to coach employees and advocate on their behalf. And with the decreased overhead of maintaining office spaces, some companies can provide stipends for their employees to outfit their home offices and bring the advantages of full-scale office solutions into their homes.

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Companies have been willing to invest in furniture for their employees’ home offices in this new WFH era.

Best of Both Worlds.

Many companies were already on their way to adopting a hybrid work model, one that involves some remote work days and some in the office. Companies that wouldn't have considered a hybrid model before have now likely seen the cost savings benefit of having WFH employees—even part of the time.

This model is also beneficial to employees who are offered the flexibility to work from home while maintaining a physical location and support structure for in-person collaboration, access to better technology, and a more focused work environment. This model has been shown to increase overall job satisfaction and prevent burnout.

Even with the expected return to "normal" coming in the months ahead, how we define the workspace has forever changed. And a new era of WFH employees has emerged, requiring companies to take a different mindset for how—and where—they can work.