Here’s another scenario: The coronavirus goes on hiatus in late spring, and cases begin to drop. Social distancing eases. But many onetime office workers realize they have little interest in going back to the way things were. The age of the office as we know it is probably over, and the bell can’t be unrung.
And there’s really no need to try. The traditional office was already fading into obsolescence. The coronavirus pandemic radically sped up the timeline.
Give people the leeway and trust to schedule their work lives around their personal lives (not the other way around), and they will discover that they tend to be more productive, more driven and happier. Organizations will learn that they benefit tremendously from losing the limitations that come with traditional office settings. An office-based team in Boston can hire from a self-selecting group of other Bostonians and people willing to move to Boston. That is how echo chambers are made. A remote team can hire anyone with an internet connection.
For five years our company has taught major corporations such as IBM, Citigroup and Unilever how to scale their remote-work culture. Long experience indicates that a Rubicon in how we work has now been crossed.