The pandemic began two years ago this month, and as we slowly (and hopefully) begin to transition from pandemic to endemic, it’s clear there’s no going back to the situation a million years ago. (Or 2019, which sounds the same.)
One of the biggest changes is that working from home is now here to stay, at least for people working in industries where it is possible.
After the pandemic hit, every company that could had no choice but to let their employees work from home, meeting in their pajamas if they wished. It seems like people have really gotten used to this and refuse to go back to the old ways of communing at work, or at least going to work every day.
Microsoft (MSFT) – Get the Microsoft Corporation report The second annual Worker Trends Index found that 53% of respondents prioritize their health and well-being at work, “and if unhappy, more than half of Gen Z respondents and millennials said they are seriously considering changing employers in the next year.”
According to a survey by Global Workplace Analytics, 4.7 million people work remotely “at least half the time” in the United States, while 62% of workers aged 22 to 65 “report working remotely at least occasionally “.
This number will probably only increase, although not everyone will be happy about it.
Not everyone is out of work from home
Amazon (AMZN) – Get the report from Amazon.com, Inc.Coinbase (PIECE OF MONEY) and Ford (F) – Get Ford Motor Company report are some of the companies that are now letting their employees work from home permanently, or adopting the hybrid model where they sometimes come into the office.
But some companies aren’t so into the brave world of Zoom. Microsoft, Expedia (EXPE) – Get the report from Expedia Group, Inc.and American Express (AXP) – Get American Express company report all telling employees to get ready to come back to the office.
In general, executives “are three times more likely than employees” to return to the office, according to a recent survey by the Future Forum. According to Microsoft’s survey, 50% of companies plan to require full-time in-person work, while 52% of employees plan to go remote soon.
The possibility of telecommuting has existed since the advent of email and personal computers, and arguably became inevitable once Slack debuted in 2013 and became the office’s preferred means of communication.
But many companies have resisted over fears that working from home will lead to lower productivity. Although nearly six in 10 workers said they were more productive working from home, old attitudes die hard and many companies cling to the idea that it’s bad for business.
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Many employers say workers lack both the camaraderie and the insight that comes from in-person brainstorming when working from home. But the counter-argument, which frequently circulates on Twitter (TWTR) – Get the report from Twitter, Inc. and Substack, is that many middle managers feel threatened by the shift to working from home, as it erodes their authority and makes them seem relatively unimportant.
How much can businesses save when switching to working from home?
But while some companies are reluctant, working from home has many tangible benefits.
Many employees report that not having to commute improves their mental health and stress levels, and they appreciate the flexibility when it comes to handling parenting duties. (Although it should be noted that some people feel the opposite and report feeling lonely and isolated when working from home, which is a good argument for the hybrid model or makes it an option.)
There’s also the fact that by removing the need to travel, businesses can significantly reduce their carbon footprint. In 2015, Xerox reported that its teleworkers traveled 92 million fewer miles, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 41,000 metric tons.
But if employee happiness, worker retention, and the environment aren’t enough, companies can also consider the cost savings of having less office space and not having to constantly hire new employees.
Dave Rietsema, is the founder and CEO of Matchr.com, one of the leading human resource software companies. He notes that “employees may be the ones pushing remote work, but they’re not the only ones to benefit. Businesses can save a lot of money with remote work.
“Companies can save up to $11,000 per employee in overhead costs if they switch to remote working. This is because companies that employ remote workers pay less overhead such as utilities and resources for office workers and simply need less office space,” says Rietsema.
“Some companies may be able to go completely remote and completely eliminate the need for an expensive office. Additionally, companies save money on turnover because employees who can work remotely home tend to stay with companies that let them.