The pandemic forced a massive remote work experiment | Inquirer

The pandemic forced a massive remote work experiment

/ 03:06 PM March 23, 2021

Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic started a worldwide remote work experiment. People around the globe stayed indoors to avoid the disease. This prompted employees to work from home, causing massive changes to workplaces. Specific fields like the call center industry now deal with its new challenges.

We’ll begin by discussing how this global work shift started. Then, we’ll explain the problems that the call center field now faces from this experiment. We’ll show its impact on the physical workspaces of the past. We’ll cap things off with the positive aspects of the new normal for employment.

We’re all feeling the massive changes we’ve made in response to the pandemic. It feels like a new world, so most people feel confused about everything. Yet, we must understand how the new standard will work in the long-term. Only then can we make these changes work for our futures.

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How it Started

How it started

In March 2020, US companies closed down due to the pandemic. They told their employees to work from home full-time as a result.

Folks thought the rules would last for a few months. Yet, millions of them still do full-time remote work. Thus began the largest remote work experiment ever seen.


Nowadays, we see how it blurs the line between our lives and jobs. You might have gone to a Zoom meeting in your kitchen. Parents do virtual classes and remote work at the same time.

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These changes required businesses to run with fewer restrictions. They had to allow employees to work anywhere. Companies had to support them with new tools as well.

We’ve realized many flaws in the old system. Some saw how useless lots of meetings were. Others found that they didn’t need to work for 8 hours.


Working in a cubicle doesn’t mean you perform better. Due to the remote work environment, you might miss your office mates more than you ever thought.

Major companies like Microsoft and Reddit will soon have a hybrid work environment. Other businesses want their employees back in the office.

Challenges of the remote work experiment

Challenges of the remote work experiment

Business process outsourcing (BPO) companies felt the impact of the new normal. Product managers had to handle their teams far away from the members.

Their Filipino call center agents felt the full force of it, though. According to Magellan Solutions, the Philippines is one of the top call center locations in the world.

Filipino workers had to follow COVID-19 guidelines just like their American clients. They also had to keep their kids at home while working in their offices.

These made it difficult for them to keep up with demands from the US. This caused a few problems for Americans as they had to wait longer for service.

Their tone changed after seeing how it is in the Philippines, though. Some Americans felt their struggle after seeing online photos of relief packages outside a Manila call center.

This changed how they think about the delays in customer service. Some found that those were just “first-world problems” compared to the challenges of Filipino workers.

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Psychological effects of remote work

Psychological effects of remote work

Some companies improved their benefits for their remote teams. Yet, this isn’t enough to help remote workers with their emotional and mental problems.

Employees asked for help regarding many issues unrelated to work. As a result, it was common to include mental health experts during business meetings.

Others long for the human interaction that jobs provided back then. Services like Skype and Slack can’t replace working with people face-to-face.

As for Filipino agents, their work always took a considerable toll. Their work weeks always had strict requirements and unsafe work conditions.

Meanwhile, low pay and lack of job security stay in their minds. Worse, remote work during the COVID-19 crisis added more problems.

Their agencies have placed them on “floating” status. It’s similar to being furloughed in the United States. They stay employed, but they can’t work nor earn.

Those who can continue office work don’t have enough protective gear. Some who can’t commute have to sleep next to each other in their office.

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Remote work as the “new normal.”

Remote work as the “new normal.”

Discrimination is another problem caused by remote work. Those still working in the office might get better opportunities than remote employees.

They’re able to speak face-to-face with their bosses. As a result, they could have better work relationships and benefits.

Companies see these problems and are trying to fix them. They know they need better communication and teamwork among their staff.

Managers try to give remote and in-office workers an equal voice during meetings. Still, they avoid making harmful habits like meeting in the office for the important stuff.

Another problem with remote work is managing taxes. Remote workers might find it difficult if they live outside their company’s state.

Reducing office space

Reducing office space

Employers are making significant changes to their offices due to remote work. More employees work outside their buildings, so they’re reducing their workspaces.

According to CNN’s Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction podcast, the Forrester firm may cut their overall office space by around 30% to 50%.

Coworking spaces have responded to these recent changes. They offer a place where workers from different companies can hang together under one roof.

What’s more, they’ve spread their offices thin in many places. Instead of a tall building in one city, they placed smaller ones in multiple areas.

Also, this made the 6 feet office a thing. It decreases the number of people and increases the cleanliness measures inside. This helps workers stay safe from the coronavirus.

Still, experts are looking out for its adverse effects on urban hubs. Remote work helps folks stay indoors. This means fewer people will hang around outdoor locations.

Outdoor restaurants and stores will earn less as a result. This might prevent them from paying taxes. Local governments may find it challenging to pay for public services.

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Benefits of remote work

Benefits of remote work

The new normal isn’t all bad, though. Like everything else, remote work brings some benefits you might have missed.

Remote team members show increased productivity in their performance. It could lower stress and prevent burnout in workers as well.

Employers can gain from flexible work too. Here are some positive effects of remote jobs:

More productive employees

Some companies saw a boost in productivity due to remote work. It helped workers get a better work-life balance compared to the old office setting.

JD Edwards said their telemarketers became 20% to 25% more productive. American Express employees improved by 43%.

These workers got more control over their jobs because of the new setting. As a result, they become healthier and happier than ever.

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More workers stayed with their companies

Business owners know how much it costs to get new employees. This is why they keep improving their hiring practices. They also try to keep the workers they already have.

People want remote work options nowadays, so they try to provide them. They get more folks willing to work for them as a result. Even better, they’re more satisfied and less likely to leave.

What’s more, this causes more folks to talk about the company. This helps them promote their business for free and hire more people.

May improve the overall health of workers

Remote workers are likely to be healthier in body and mind. A study shows that they had lower stress compared to other employees.

Another one says that flexible options are suitable for the brain. It could make workers happier and more creative.

Also, it could help people from different age ranges work together. This may help millennials, Gen X, and boomers to see each other in a positive light.

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Remote work helps fight climate change

The new normal may lower our carbon footprint. It lets us consume less energy and products. In turn, we might reduce pollution too.

If we don’t commute often, we’ll release fewer greenhouse gases. Video meetings help us cut travel costs and lessen pollution as well.

Remote workers also use fewer supplies and less energy. If your business wants to go green, remote work lets you do it for real.

It helps businesses save money

Employers may spend less because of remote work. They don’t have to rent as much space for workers. They could remove desks if more employees work outside.

It helps them with payrolls and provides more cost benefits. What’s more, they won’t have to worry about storms or power outages preventing work.

Even better, remote workers are often present. After all, it’s kind of difficult to be late when you can work from anywhere!

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Final thoughts

Businesses won’t turn into fully remote companies soon. Still, remote work is here to stay. In response, you should try to get used to these changes.

Home offices will stay while COVID-19 does. Once it ends, you’ll still find people working in coffee shops. Some would still want to work far from the office.

If you like hanging out with other folks, you might not like it. Some people want the freedom that remote work gives, though. They might love bringing their work anywhere.

Many things will affect how it will turn out for you. For example, remote work might turn out well if your company is fair.

As we said, it boils down to your choices. It’s currently an option that you should check out. It’s part of the new normal that we’re in now. We have to learn all we can, so it could help our lives.

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TAGS: coronavirus, pandemic, remote work
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