The CDC has provided guidance for businesses and employers for social distancing due to COVID-19 risks (CDC Guidance). CDC is actively encouraging sick employees to work from home and most of the companies especially the software companies have embraced this strategy and are actively encouraging the employees to work from home.
Most of the tech companies including Google and Facebook have made work from home mandatory and other software companies have followed a similar protocol considering the seriousness of the situation. The idea is to enable social isolation to prevent the spread of the virus and protect the health of their employees.
Most of the work especially in the knowledge-based economy such as software, marketing, legal, and customer support can be done mostly from home. The advent of amazing communication tools such as Slack and Zoom has made it really easy to work from home and still maintain collaboration and productivity with different people at work.
We don’t know how long the situation is going to last and looking at the current situation the quarantine might extend even up to the end of summer. The timeline might be fuzzy but once the virus spread is controlled and the WFH mandate is removed, would the employees prefer to return to the office or would they like to continue to WFH?
Once workers see the benefit of working from home and employers see the productivity graph being the same, I bet some decisions will be made to make remote work permanent for many employees. I believe Covid-19 could permanently shift the remote work paradigm and companies will be forced to embrace this new paradigm.
One of the biggest gripes from employees working in the Bay Area or New York has been the high cost of living. These folks pay high rent and it’s literally impossible to own a home near their place of work. The mandatory work from home will now lead to questions on remote work and how the employees can afford to purchase a home by moving to lower-cost areas such as Idaho or Arizona. Some companies like Github have already adopted remote hiring and I expect more companies to join the fray very soon. On the other end, most of these companies will start looking at the data such as worker productivity, the cost savings in terms of office space and other amenities such as cafeteria, security, and maintenance. The data along with the worker request and push would make them reconsider the rules about working remotely.
These are interesting and scary times with the social distancing and spread of the Covid virus. Once the spread of the virus is controlled and vaccines are developed, the situation should become normal, hopefully in the next 3-6 months. Once normalcy returns, we will see a huge shift in the way we work and the adoption of remote work. I don’t think we are going back to a situation where everybody will be forced to work from office space. Instead, we will see companies offering the option of on-site or remote to most of their employees.
I am hoping that the companies in the Bay Area reach out to establish remote teams in lower-cost states so that workers have the option to move to other states and afford a home. Have you looked at the price and living condition of homes in Cupertino or Mountain View with a budget of even $1M dollars (Spoiler alert: It’s pitiful).