Staying home during a pandemic, especially six or more months in, is exhausting. We're all sick of safety protocols and self-quarantine and wiping down our groceries. But for those of us who can do so, we're really digging one this about COVID, and that's the normalization of workplace flexibility.
Business Insider has rounded up a number of recent studies showing that remote work has actually had some pretty good effects on our collective mental health, even though we know that those benefits are wildly unevenly distributed. One survey found that just 2 percent of office workers want to return to onsite jobs full-time when this is all over. Compare that with the two-thirds of respondents in the same survey who said they'd prefer their jobs stay remote full-time once the pandemic is over.
A virtual workplace still needs some measure of effort to maintain, though. Office culture is a huge part of what makes people like their jobs and stay productive in them, so it's important that we learn more about how to create office culture in distributed workplaces. We also need to recognize that leadership looks different when it's not totally in-person, and that different people will have valuable skills that have so far been overlooked.
Finally, businesses need to come clean about how they'll compensate remote work versus in-person employees. Work-life balance will always need tweaking, and your boss might always feel intrusive, but a post-COVID workplace, no matter what, is going to look very different from what we were used to.