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  • Writer's pictureBrianna Dunbar

Thriving in Today's Economy: How Online is Changing How we Work

Technology’s disruptive power has been steadily altering the way we work for many years now.

Image by Lorenzo Cafaro from Pixabay

From the growing importance of embracing digitization to the drastic changes in where and how we work, online access has proven to be a game changer in the workplace.

Experts predicted that business travel costs would total $1.7 trillion annually worldwide by 2022, as noted by the Global Business Travel Association.

As these four ways that online is changing how we work prove, thriving in today’s economy requires digital know-how and a willingness to remain flexible.

We Think Digitally

Online access has put our thoughts in the clouds. Literally. We can store important documents in the cloud, run a huge enterprise without ever stepping foot in a physical office and even work for a company that sells or creates products we never see. Online work has radically changed the workplace. Today’s workforce needs to have stellar digital skills to successfully thrive in today’s business landscape.

Case in point: Marketing is no longer just about television, radio and billboard advertising. Digital advertising, including social and influencer marketing, have been steadily on the rise, which makes sense since there are more than 4.5 billion active internet users worldwide according to data from Statista. Because marketers want to meet consumers in the places they frequent most, the emphasis on digital has become priority over traditional methods.

Businesses of all types and sizes are embracing digital. Chatbots, apps, social media strategies, website and data are all key components to successful digital transformations across every sector. That was true before COVID-19 and is more true in this post-pandemic work world. Businesses that have successfully navigated the shockwave that the pandemic sent across most industries are those who have already made — or could quickly make — the shift to digital operations.

We’re Working from Home More

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Even before the COVID-19 forced most businesses to rapidly adapt to what Stanford News refers to as the "working from home economy," 53 percent of people working in the United States worked from home at least one day per week according to Statista. After COVID, 66 percent of American employees reported working remotely one or more days per week. What’s more, although only 17 percent worked from home five or more days per week before the pandemic, that number rose to 44 percent during COVID.

In the post-pandemic work world, the trend is expected to continue. Although many people are eager to return to the physical workplace at least part time, the majority of workers want the option to continue working from home. Now that companies have been forced to transition to a mobile workforce, it’s likely a trend not only accelerated by the pandemic, but also here to stay. The University of Arkansas conducted a survey of more than 200 human resources departments, 80 percent of which had employees working from home and expect remote work to increase in the long-term.

We’re Rethinking Business Travel

Virtual meetings won’t fully replace business travel. There are very real benefits to meeting face to face that can’t be duplicated online. For example, in-person interactions enhance social connectedness and reinforce company culture. Additionally, a recent study conducted by Harvard University's Growth Lab revealed that business travel is a vital component of every country's economic growth. The authors of the study attribute the correlation to the transfer of know-how that happens by working alongside others.

Experts predicted that business travel costs would total $1.7 trillion annually worldwide by 2022, as noted by the Global Business Travel Association. After COVID canceled travel plans across the globe, that tally may well be scaled back. Businesses everywhere have been forced to embrace online meetings, webinars and conferences. Technology has made it easier than ever to connect without having to hop on a plane. Throughout the pandemic, Zooms, Skyping and Microsoft Meetings have become the norm. Businesses can leverage technology to trim their travel budgets and increase productivity by balancing travel with tech-enabled online meetings and conferences.

Where We Work is In Flux: Flex Office Space is Growing

The office footprint has been changing for quite a few years now, but COVID has accelerated many of the trends that were already emerging. Now, as businesses start making their plans to bring workers back to the physical office, they’re also reevaluating their space needs and are more hesitant to commit to traditional long-term commercial real estate leases. With the number of people working remotely and the growing digitization of business, the evolution of office spaces is only natural.

Coworking, on-demand office space, executive suites and private meeting rooms are all on the rise. In fact, although flex space only accounted for about five percent of the CRE inventory before the pandemic, JLL predicts that it will grow to 30 percent by 2030. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to where we work, which is more apparent now than ever before, proving that online isn’t just changing how we work, but also where we work.

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