The coronavirus outbreak in China has sparked what is likely the world’s largest remote work experiment.

With millions of people across China and nearby countries (such as Singapore) being forced to stay home and collaborate digitally.

Is this going to cause a massive shift to remote work?

Probably not, but it’s definitely a good start!

From my own experience, there’s a major difference between remote-first companies (companies that are primarily remote) and companies that are remote-friendly (companies that have some remote workers).

At companies that aren’t primarily remote, the communication and collaboration systems aren’t optimized for remote collaboration.

And therefore remote employees are frequently treated like second class citizens and are excluded from many of the most important decision making processes.

In this particular (coronavirus) situation, most employees working from home are likely working for companies that do not have remote-friendly infrastructure.

So while they’ll be getting to try out remote work, it’s not under ideal circumstances with robust collaboration tools.

Nonetheless, the exposure to working from home will certainly showcase the remote option to both employees and employers. And this will spark innovation and future opportunities.

Why is 2020 the decade when remote work will become mainstream?

Chris Herd of Firstbase wrote a fascinating post about the 33 reasons why remote work will go mainstream this decade. It’s a must-read if you’re interested in the future of work!