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Pandemic Out-Of-Office Shift Has Lessons for Long-Remote CRE Workers


It turns out that the workforce, now glued to screens and stuck at home due to COVID-19, may have been infinitely more productive out of the office than many expected, according to data gathered in a new study.

The Harvard Business Review reported that productivity tools have actually lived up to their name during lockdown. By anonymizing and analyzing daily email, chat and calendar data, tech tracking firm Humanyze found that even though workers have expanded the hours in their workdays by 10% to 20% during the coronavirus pandemic, they also report reduced stress, fewer negative emotions and increased communications with close collaborators by 40%.

Remote working isn’t as revolutionary a concept in the real estate world, where many brokers and agents already spent most of their time out of the office. But as the data highlights, cultural shifts and new norms brought about by widespread working-from-home, felt across almost every industry, which will be noted with interest by employers of all types. 

Even as we’re meeting even more often — Microsoft reported a 200% increase in virtual meetings on its Teams communications platform, hitting a new daily total of 2.7 billion meetings — workers want more opportunities to work remotely. A ManpowerGroup global analysis found 80% of workers want to be out of the office more, viewing it as a means to achieve better work-life balance

Digital nomads, it would seem, are here to stay. The key word there is digital, underscoring the need for commercial real estate and other industries to adopt better technology, especially mobile communication.

Many workplaces have seen big bumps in remote socialization. Microsoft Teams saw a 10% rise in purely social meetings. A big lockdown lesson is that culture can, and needs to be, nurtured outside of the office.

Another key development is that online meetings make it easier to measure who’s doing the talking. Diversity metrics, easier than ever to record and reflect upon, can help companies adjust how they’re collaborating, providing more of a voice to underrepresented groups and improving feelings of inclusion. 

Remote work may have already been a given for many before 2020. But the newfound focus on using technology to improve the experience suggests everyone should re-examine how communications and culture are reinforced inside and outside the office.