Wednesday, May 20, 2020

20/5/20: Post-Covid Workplace: More of the Old or Less of the New?

A couple of neat snapshots for the post-COVID world came out of the two recent surveys by the Irish CSO, as summarized in the following two charts:

Let me explain. We have been bombarded by 'the future will be vastly different' messages from all the consultancy firms striving to grab a piece of the post-COVID recovery action. One of the key messages in this chorus of cash hungry voices has been the idea that the future workforce will be employed in radically different ways to the pre-COVID status quo ante.

Now, what the above charts show is:

  1. Businesses have indeed migrated to the remote work platforms with COVID19 shutdown measures. However, remarkably, only 30.5% of all Irish employers have moved majority of their staff to work remotely, and 23.4% of them did not alter working arrangements for the majority of their employees. The gap is just 7.1 percentage points. Significant, but not very large, given the strictness of Irish restrictions. Only 31.1% of all enterprises have adapted new methods of providing products and services (production capacity), while 52% have adapted new means of communications. In other words, there has been a sizeable, but not a dominant shift in actual business activity.
  2. Employees, in contrast, have no desire to continue working remotely. only 6.6% of male employees and 6.9% of female employees would want to continue working from home. 60.9% of male and 43.9% of female employees would like to have a hybrid choice of sometimes working from home and sometimes being deployed in their place of work. 
So the future does not seem to be dominated by employees willing to accept work from home arrangements. Meanwhile, there is no evidence that non-traditional or new methods of works are taking root in businesses, especially if one controls for the severity of Irish social distancing restrictions.

May be, we are not going to the status quo ante of the pre-COVID world when it comes to workplace arrangements. Yet, may be, the new normal won't be all that radically distinct from the status quo ante either. Middle of the road future?

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