The prospect of extensive remote working has taken a huge step closer

If many people choose to remain working from home it will have major effects for staff, companies and property markets

The coronavirus pandemic has made one thing obvious to employers all over the country: business will continue when people have to work from home. That it has taken a pandemic for some companies to realise this seems absurd.

Technology has broadened what we consider the office; remote working has been possible for some employees for some time. But the take-up still remains well below what it could be.

Despite evidence that remote working has benefits for staff and businesses alike, companies still invest in large offices, hoovering up space for staff to sit behind desks day in, day out. Even technology companies with flexible working policies have sprawling campuses and office buildings all over the world, with thousands of staff members working in them every day.

That was until the coronavirus outbreak saw companies shut up shop and their workforces scatter.


The current situation is somewhat unusual. Businesses have been forced into remote working with little time to prepare either themselves and their employees. Many people have children at home, or others to care for where supports have been suddenly ripped away. It’s a less than ideal introduction to the world of remote working, and some of us will be only too glad to leave it behind.

But will businesses ever be able to go back to how it was before? Already there are signs that remote working in some form will be with us even after the pandemic ends.

Twitter this week told staff it would stage a phased return to the office when the time came, but also said working from home "permanently" would be an option. Those who want to continue working from home can do so, chief executive Jack Dorsey told staff in an email.

It's unlikely that Twitter will be the only company to take this approach, and nor should it. Facebook and Google have extended remote working to the end of the year. Anecdotal reports indicate that more companies are following that lead.

As life eventually returns to some semblance of normal and remote working becomes a choice rather than a necessity, it will be interesting to see how many people choose to remain working from home. That will ultimately have far reaching effects for staff, companies, even the commercial property markets.

And the tech sector is finally taking its own advice.