Real estate agencies maybe the ones to lose out as COVID-19 fosters a new working model on the entire globe. Businesses are adjusting their operating models to working from home (WHF).
This is critical at a time when e-commerce is gaining popularity, WeWork getting bad press, Facebook rejigging its live video features, and Zoom leap forward. No one truly planned to see that happen sooner but employees and employers are learning to cope quiet well.
The COVID-19 which began in Wuhan, China, has spread to 210 countries and territories around the world. There are presently 3,086,832 reported cases and 212, 666 deaths as a result of the deadly virus. While vaccine is not expected to be available before September 2020, the WHO and governments are putting in place measures ranging from partial to complete lockdown, massive testing and quarantine of suspects to limit the spread.
However, businesses are learning to cope. Employees in most part of the world now work remotely. The Realdeal, a business magazine, in its weekend report, called this new reality a nod to ‘the future of working life’.
In fact, the report emphasized that it is now possible for corporate activities to take place with “much less real estate”. As a confirmation of that significant shift, Zoom, a video-conferencing app, has seen a 21% increase in the number of monthly active users since the beginning of the global economic lockdown. As well, having seen about 700 million accounts participate in video calls in the past month, Facebook has extended its video-calling feature to accommodate up to 50 users per time to help corporate workforce connect seamlessly.
The Chief Executive Officer of Morgan Stanley, American $60 billion investment bank, James Gorman, attested to that shift.
He said, “We have proven we can operate with effectively no foot-print”.
“Can I see a future where part of every week, certainly part of every month, a lot of our employees will be at home? Absolutely”, Gorman added.
The top corporate chief has every right to believe that assertion. Since the beginning of the lockdown, the investment bank has asked 90% of its 80,000 workforce to work from home. He admitted that the shift to the work-from-home model has been smooth.
He concluded that the new arrangement showed “where people need to be physically”.
To emphasize the new reality, a recent research conducted by Standford University’s Professor of Economics, Nicholas Bloom and a graduate student named James Liang, highlighted that people who were asked to work from home reported job satisfaction and delivered their work more efficiently than those who use the office.
Since businesses, especially entrepreneurs operating as SME, are expected to pinch their pennies and government continue to harp on social distancing when the lockdown is eventually lifted, companies may want to forego the cost of hosting a large number of employees in a common, flamboyant physical space to reduce rent and cost of utility.
If this works well till the end of the year, it may just become the new normal – sort of WFH coming to stay.