CHAPTER 1Forces Reshaping Work and Workforces

We Do Not Have to Sit Together to Work Together

During spring 2020, millions of employees shifted from working in offices to working remotely from home to protect people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Company leaders soon learned, often to their surprise, that the shift to remote work often increased employee engagement, productivity, and sense of belonging.1 These benefits happened even though the move to remote work was done to protect health, not to improve employee experience. Employees missed in-person interactions and access to workspaces outside of their homes but welcomed greater control over their time and not having to commute to work every day. As one customer I work with shared after adopting remote work, “we don't want to go back to normal. We want to go forward to better.” And better meant permanently embracing some hybrid mixture of remote and on-site work.

The fact companies shifted to remote work in a matter of weeks means the technology to support remote work was widely available before the pandemic. In fact, many people had been working remotely for decades. However few companies embraced the concept of remote work prior to the pandemic. The positive reaction of employees showed that had remote work been supported before the pandemic, many people would have embraced it much earlier. People disliked commuting to work every day. But prior to the pandemic they were not given an alternative, even though it was technologically ...

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