A key opportunity presented by the COVID-19 pandemic is the shift to flexible and remote work structures. While at first, the sudden shift to remote work was painful for many organisations, its prevalence offers an opportunity to abolish traditional work structures—like being present in the office every day or working strict 9 to 5 hours—in favour of more flexible, balanced, and family-friendly work structures.
Now that employees have the necessary infrastructure in place to engage in work remotely, employers have the opportunity to reshape their work policies to allow for a permanent shift to this culture, such as enabling employees to work from home several days a week or choose their own schedules. Enshrining this work culture would undoubtedly expand the labour pool by increasing the proportion of women—who traditionally assume more of the caretaking duties—seeking employment. There is a plethora of economic benefits that ensue when more women join the workforce, including greater productivity and higher wages. By broadly promoting employee empowerment, flexible and remote work policies would also improve mental health and reduce work-related burnout.
Furthermore, the endurance of the flexible and remote work trend would be environmentally advantageous as there would be less day-to-day commuting, and therefore less carbon emissions from vehicle traffic, a net positive in our fight against global warming. Finally, it would promote urban population diaspora to more rural populations as employees would no longer be chained to living in the same location as their place of work, therefore boosting rural economies through population growth and increased expenditure and contributing to a greater equalization of wealth and costs of living between urban and rural areas.