National Work From Home Week is observed during the second week in October, and recognizes the seven million people in the United States who don’t commute to work every day. Well, prior to 2020, that was the way things were — but in a post pandemic world, that seven million number has risen exponentially.
Global Workforce Analytics estimates that up to 30 percent of the workforce will become a remote workforce after Covid. So let’s do some math on that: 30 percent of 157.5 Million is 47.25 Million. That’s an increase of around 40 Million people who are now working from home!
Aside from the obvious (initial) reasons for these stay-at-home workers, even now that things are opening up around the world again, workplaces have started to embrace the possibility that employees can be just as productive and contributive without having to physically be in an office environment.
The week also takes a look at the way technology changes the ways we approach remote work and its benefits. Technology is the number one contributor to making this new way of teamwork possible. Without phone calls, online zoom video conferencing and video calls, without smartphones, social media, texting, email, and online team management tracking software — none of it would be possible.
Some companies have welcomed and celebrated the hybrid workforce and many employees have enjoyed the benefits of remote work: work-life balance, time savings for companies, and environmental savings as workers burn less fuel and do not add to urban smog.
On the other hand there is an argument for full time onsite employment because dealing with remote workers hinders opportunities for in-person management — the walkthrough your co-workers approach — and there are questions about whether or not employees can actually be more productive for the company without being on premises.
The Harvard Business Review reports that employees who work in a home office workspace put their commuting counterparts’ productivity to shame. Another thing the study found is that people working from home completed 13.5 percent more calls than the staff in the office space did.
Obviously when working from home, your commuting time and associated commuting costs are reduced remarkably.
Costs to the employee are reduced in many ways. Based on conservative assumptions, Global Workplace Analytics estimates a typical employer can save an average of $11,000 per half-time telecommuter per year. The primary savings are the result of increased productivity, lower real estate costs, reduced absenteeism and turnover, and better disaster preparedness. Employers can calculate their own potential savings on this free Telework Savings Calculator™.
To put it bluntly, remote employees are happier employees. A combination of saving hours of time stuck in traffic, saving thousands of dollars on fast food lunches, and working next in a calm and comfortable environment makes for a more enjoyable work experience. In an Owl Labs study, full-time remote workers said they’re happy in their job 22 percent more than people never working remotely and according to another study, 97 percent of full time remote employees would recommend remote work to others.
It’s important as an employer to understand the effects of various flex-work hybrid work options, and support certain types of employees as they negotiate with employers. For the vast majority of such employers, remote work is a win-win, because the employee can move to a location of choice and save money in cost of living, and the employer will see higher productivity and lower attrition, and save on real estate costs, as well as a number of other office setting costs.
As some companies move to adopt broader telecommuting policies, others such as Yahoo! have publicly retreated from allowing remote working away from a central work environment. Companies have cited the need for face-to-face check-ins with team members and office engagement and the benefits of spontaneous interaction of office workers among reasons to avoid remote work, even for highly skilled, autonomous remote employees.
A deeper factor might underlie their reluctance, and that factor is trust. Fear that work at home might result in a shirking of responsibilities and a lowering of productivity, but a wealth of new research is showing quite the opposite. Employee productivity is actually shown to increase when they're in a more comfortable environment of their choosing, rather than having to commute for their workday. Home life improves, commute time is reduced, longer hours are more of a possibility, mental health benefits, and the perks list goes on and on.
A traditional office (at least one that we thought of before last year) may be something of the past as we move into a remote work future. The workweek now consists of things that were never considered normal. Video conferences and a host of other technology is changing normal, traditional jobs into remote jobs.