Before the COVID-19 pandemic, “the workplace” was typically considered an office filled with rows of cubicles and offices with lights on late. At the beginning of the pandemic, most organizations closed their offices to move their employees to a “safer from home” model. The workplace continues to transform post-pandemic as workers across formerly office-based vocations look to remain homebound for some or all of the time.
Impact of COVID-19 on the workplace
According to a survey of US workers taken in May 2020, 48.7 million – or 35% – reported working from home in the previous four weeks due to the pandemic. In a separate survey that same month, 57% of management and professional staff reported working from home. Of those in professional roles, three-quarters were at home, with the highest number of workers representing education, computer, and legal occupations.
As the pandemic continued throughout the following year, workers across many occupations remained at home. Almost half (45%) of full-time workers were still working remotely to some degree in September 2021, with 91% hoping to continue after the pandemic.
The future of work
As of mid-2022, many working “remote-capable” jobs were still doing so either full- or part-time. In fact, according to a June 2022 Gallup survey, less than 10% of those in remote-capable jobs said they were interested in returning to working in an office full-time.
With employees voicing their preference for workplace flexibility, employers have implemented accommodations, updating their work-from-home policies to attract and retain talent. Fields such as sales, marketing, and project management lead the pack in 2022 with job openings that feature hybrid arrangements with other areas such as medicine and education seeing a shift toward remote work.
While telehealth was already a trend before the pandemic, it was brought to the forefront when servicing patients in person became increasingly more difficult due to the impact of COVID-19. While virtual consultations with doctors increased as a necessity, this opened the door to further remote options for related functions such as patient intake, claims processing, and medical billing. Given the ongoing challenges in receiving adequate and timely healthcare, we can expect virtual patient care to remain available, and in some cases preferred, for the foreseeable future.
While the shift to remote learning was a hurdle for secondary and higher education, particularly for younger students and those with visual, audio, or sensory impairments, the pandemic has shown the possibilities of flexible work among some education roles. For example, educational technology specialists are voicing interest in flexible arrangements, with many organizations starting to allow hybrid work. Those in higher executive positions in managerial or administrative roles work remotely to some level, with 75% surveyed in a recent poll sharing that they could work from home as much as they wish.
What does this mean for the workforce?
As many of the growing pains associated with working through the pandemic subside, we can shift our focus to the benefits the changing workplace presents. With hybrid workplaces becoming increasingly more common, opportunities to tap diverse and previously unavailable talent pools increase.
When lockdowns were first implemented to combat the pandemic, individuals with disabilities were among the smallest percent of individuals employed. While disabled individuals still hold fewer jobs than non-disabled workers, remote work has shown to be an accessible option for people with disabilities, increasing the overall number of employed disabled individuals. According to the Americans with Disability Act, remote work capabilities may even constitute a reasonable accommodation, opening the door to additional opportunities for employers and employees.
It is clear that many of the expected “temporary” changes put in place at the start of the pandemic are here to stay. As you navigate the changing face of the workplace, Brown & Brown Absence Services Group is here to support you. If you are interested in learning how we can partner with your organization, please contact us today.