As businesses around the world begin cautiously reopening, those that survive COVID-19 intact may have an opportunity to imagine a  more flexible, tech-savvy, and creative workplace.

Remote work was growing before the pandemic: 70% of employees globally reported working from home at least once a week, and just one-third of those who regularly worked from home were self-employed or otherwise untethered to a traditional office. Now, months of forced teleworking offered definitive proof of just how many roles could be successfully performed outside of a traditional office setting.

Investors and entrepreneurs are taking stock of months of social distancing, and rethinking past assumptions about office culture for when workspaces need to be redesigned on the other side of the pandemic. Below are a number of interesting opportunities that have emerged.

Workspace innovation

Offices are not going extinct, but alterations for social distancing—something coworking spaces are already piloting—may become the norm, along with more modular designs that facilitate employees plugging in and out of work. That means there is hope for coworking spaces, including from the embattled WeWork. 

More opportunities for women

It was known pre-COVID that the modern economy was designed on the assumption that (mostly male) workers had a wife or other caretaker to manage everything besides the duties of formal employment. The pandemic laid bare the consequences of both burnout culture and archaic parental leave policies that no longer reflect modern family structures. 

Now that everyone has had a front-row seat, via Zoom or in their own homes, to the challenges of providing homeschooling and childcare, executives seem to be reconsidering their work-from-home policies, as well as considerations for childcare and what defines “normal” working hours. In a recent survey, three-quarters of CFOs expect to make remote work a permanent option. This could lead to more opportunities for women BECAUSE WHAT, ACCORDING TO WHOM?. 

The more experimental companies will be the ones to watch. 

Cyber Security

The act of plugging in and out is itself due for an overhaul. The switch to teleworking did not just accelerate the prevalence of virtual meetings. It exposed a host of new cybersecurity threats that come with conducting business outside of a highly-guarded office intranet. Forty percent of companies named IT security as their top post-COVID priority. Before the pandemic, the market was already worth over $115 billion; now, it is projected to nearly double by 2021. The unanswered question in this area is how these solutions ultimately balance with privacy. 

What will the working world look like when we settle into this new reality? Reimagining the space, time, and tools for work can climax in a creative reckoning at the individual and corporate level. We’ve only just begun.