Remote working was something of a pipe dream for the average employee pre-pandemic, though there were vestiges of a new practice forming in forward-thinking organisations. The coronavirus pandemic was a completely unprecedented event, though, and one which accelerated the adoption of remote working technology across the board; by April 2020, nearly half of all working adults reported working from home at some point that month. But has remote working changed business fundamentally, or is it a ‘fad’?
Transport Usage Falling Across the Board
A dramatic decrease in the use of both public and private transport was a necessary function of the early-stages coronavirus containment measures, but the impact of such measures has endured in their aftermath – especially in professional circles.
According to research by the University of Oxford’s Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS), car travel has remained 10% below pre-pandemic levels – with working from home a leading cause of reduced road congestion.
There is one area that bucked the trend, though. Private aviation saw an increase in demand during and after the pandemic, as executives sought to charter business planes for international meetings without the rigours of commercial air transport.
The Rise of Videoconferencing
However, despite the noted increase in private jet charters for executive businesspersons, a new form of business meeting has prevailed – the virtual meeting. Videoconferencing software had become immediately more popular in the early days of coronavirus restrictions, amongst social circles as much as professional ones; the utility of team video calls with sharing tools enabled relatively seamless communication despite obvious physical barriers to meeting in person.
The success of internal team communication software was already well-documented even before the pandemic, but the introduction of travel restrictions quickened the widespread adoption of communication software for international meetings between clients or partners. The adoption of videoconferencing infrastructure had a longer-term effect though, incentivising continued usage to justify expenditure and reduce further travel costs for certain businesses.
The result is a marked increase in digital meetings in comparison to pre-pandemic conventions, even as travel restrictions become a distant memory for professionals. The adoption is not without its headaches for executives, as technological issues and time management become new variables – but otherwise, videoconferencing seems set to stay on as a new normal for modern business.
The Wider Impact of Remote Working
The impact of remote working is wide-reaching, not just for businesses and their employees but also for cities, infrastructure and even entire families. The decreased reliance on cars for commutes, and on public transport overall, is a remarkable shift for the country’s sustainability metrics – at the expense of crucial tax income.
The hospitality industry is also experiencing hardship, as venues from city centre cafes to international conference centres struggle to fill seats. Conversely, tech-led organisations are experiencing a secondary tech boom, as more investment in communication and sharing enables more innovation – and more seamless virtual meetings.