THE PLATFORM

After reading some articles on what is going to happen in a post-pandemic work environment, all I can say is, some people have crystal balls that are clearer than others.

In a Forbes article, “The Future Of Work: How To Prepare For The Post-Pandemic Workplace,” the author agrees with what I uncovered last year. We are going through a paradigm shift when it comes to the workforce of the future. We are not returning to a “business-as-usual” environment. Many people will shift to working from home on a permanent basis.

In the article, the author points out: “A global study by Slack found that 72% of knowledge workers said they would prefer a mix of remote and office work, with the rest split evenly between a preference for working exclusively from the office or exclusively from home.”

The issue is, it’s not the knowledge workers who have the final say in the decision, it is the corporate leadership of all their companies who have the final decision on how the workforce will play out and it will not be just a hybrid approach to working. It will also include a large component of people who will “work-from-home” permanently and there are good reasons why.

For one, some people like the option of working from home. Many who commute to downtown areas like New York City, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, and other major areas spend a huge amount of time commuting.

Secondly, what they have found out is that these people on average are 20-26% more productive working from home than when they commute to work.

Thirdly, with some people having almost a two-hour commute each way, if they can eliminate those four hours a day and deliver 20-26% more work, why would any company want them to come back and get beaten by the daily commute? Without the commute, it is like they have been given a big raise because their workday has been cut down from almost twelve hours a day to eight.

This new approach to have those in the workforce “work-from-home” permanently is a win-win situation. The company can cut back on commercial real estate expenses, office furniture, a cafeteria, and many other amenities it needs to provide if everyone comes back to work. Those who are concerned with their organization’s carbon footprint will see a reduction in that as well because people will not have to drive or take a train and those transportation areas will see reductions.

Who is slow to see the big picture evolving?

As more people receive the opportunity to “work-from-home,” they are realizing some real benefits of time at home and also realizing they do not have to live close to the office. The importance of having good connectivity at their homes has become apparent as some on Zoom meetings found out the bandwidth of the connection to their homes does not support video streaming as well as it could.

This will become a new amenity that people will be concerned with when buying a house or renting an apartment: Does it have adequate broadband connectivity where I can work from home and handle video calls?

Those who are slow at seeing this paradigm shift are many politicians and other civic leaders who do not realize the changes this impact will have in the daily operations of a city and region.

Cities are going to have to re-invent themselves when they realize the shortfall in revenues they will encounter when many people do not come in on a daily basis and patronize restaurants, retail, and entertainment venues. They are dependent on several revenue streams which will not carry the same amount of revenues cities have collected in the past because fewer people will be coming downtown on a daily basis.

They also do not have to live in the city or even near the corporate facilities as long as they have good connectivity. This is already affecting “high-rent and high-tax” areas like California, New York, New Jersey, and Chicago with workers moving to more affordable areas while keeping their jobs.

Politicians and city leadership in all regions need to step back and consider spending cuts and operational cuts because they will be losing out on tax revenues which they have been taking for granted over the years as being never-ending.

Municipalities and other government agencies need to find and implement real efficiencies throughout their organizations in order to remain viable, just as private organizations, corporations, and businesses have done throughout the years in order to survive and sustain their business operations.

It’s a good time to reevaluate priorities and realize “Best practices are not found in bureaucracies.”

James Carlini is a strategist for mission critical networks, technology, and intelligent infrastructure. Since 1986, he has been president of Carlini and Associates. Besides being an author, keynote speaker, and strategic consultant on large mission critical networks including the planning and design for the Chicago 911 center, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange trading floor networks, and the international network for GLOBEX, he has served as an adjunct faculty member at Northwestern University.