As businesses across the US prepare to return to work after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, industry experts are forecasting a sea change in the way we will work moving forward.  Specifically, many more of us will become permanent remote workers.

COVID-related workplace directives changed very quickly during the initial phases of the pandemic in the US. The demand for a shift to remote work was immediate at times.  Once workers were established in their home offices, CFO’s sensed “an opportunity to realize the cost benefits of a remote workforce,” said Gartner’s Alexander Bant.

According to Gartner’s CFO Survey from April 3, 74% of CFO’s plan to keep at least 5% of their workforces remote post-COVID.  17% of those polled will keep 20% of their employees working from home post-COVID.

Global Workplace Analytics (GWA) is forecasting even greater post-COVID growth in home workforce numbers.  GWA is conducting a Global Work-from-Home Experience Survey, and are predicting that 25-30% of the workforce will be working from home multiple days per week by the end of 2021. That is a remote workforce of 32 million to 49 million people.

Many organizations with subscription-based collaboration suites were able to make relatively seamless transitions to telecommuting models when states began ordering commercial and retail buildings closed. Service providers proved to be up to the task.  Most notably, Microsoft handled 2.7 billion Teams meetings in one day, and a 1,000 percent increase in Teams calls during the month of March.

Agile workers have been able to keep business moving forward without missing a beat by using video communications to stay in touch with their customers and business networks.  “The event itself is what brings people together,” said BBH’s Layne Frank about the switch from in-person to virtual meetings. “It’s the conversations that will create relationships and drive business.”

Layne recently co-founded Virtual 5 O’clock, an online networking group that meets twice per week over a video conferencing platform.  Membership for “V5O”, which is sponsored in part by BBH Solutions, has grown by 900% since the group was founded in March.

Leadership at BBH Solutions anticipates several changes in office technology configurations and conferencing requirements as the New York Metro Area eases towards the post-COVID business environment.  “Businesses will be challenged with a balance of how to best utilize their existing office, create a post-COVID safe environment, and have the added challenge of their building constraints such as lobby and elevator space,” said Bruce Hoernecke, BBH’s CEO.  “We believe this will further emphasize the need to enable larger remote workforces to complement on-premise staff.  Business will need to assess whether they have the optimum environment to have a collaborative, productive environment that bridges the office worker and the remote worker – creating the virtual office.  This will change office floor plans, conference room amounts and configurations, desktop setups as well as open areas.”

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