Companies across the globe are grappling with a big question brought on by the pandemic, something that has nothing to do with vaccines or masks or even supply chain. It’s the new workplace and whether remote workplace is here to stay.
In a word: Yes.
Odd as it may sound, millions of employees who have made remote work their new normal have covid-19 to thank. It was, after all, concerns over the virus that gave remote work – which had been flickering for some time – some gas in 2020. Overnight, companies that had never considered work-from-home for their workers were forced to adapt to that very thing and when operations didn’t grind to a halt, they had to admit that the system could work.
Now, two years after the genie is out of the bottle, the working landscape in many industries looks very different than it did just 24 months ago, and experts across the nation and around the world have pretty much conceded that remote work will be the norm – in some form or fashion – for a long time to come.
Proponents of remote work have some pretty strong arguments on their side. First, contrary to management’s initial fears, work-from-home employees are proving to be more productive, less stressed, more punctual and less likely to turn over. They also can point to health and safety aspects, given the variants that continue to infect people.
For these reasons and others, surveys show more than a quarter of U.S. workers will work from home for the duration of 2022, and 40 percent said if some form of remote work was not an option at their company, they would find other employment. In this very thin labor market, such threats are enough to get most companies’ attention.
It should also be noted that employers benefit from remote work as well, from saving money on smaller office space to cutting greenhouse gases as a result of less commuters on the road each day. But companies are also worried about the impact of remote work on company morale and effective communication, to say nothing about the gaping holes in cybersecurity presented by employees logging in from home.
The good news is that many or most of these drawback can be overcome with the right tools and security solutions as well as improved front line manager training. Or, as some would accurately say, the wave of the present as just about 1 in 4 employees reported being deployed in this model in 2021 and it shows no signs of slowing down. One survey of 9,000 workers returned a landslide 83 percent of respondents saying hybrid officing is the future of the workplace.
Executives were more measured in their response, with 62 percent saying they considered between 2 and 4 days of on-site work necessary to maintain company morale and cohesiveness. While that’s hardly a ringing endorsement of the hybrid work model, another poll found 85 percent of U.S. companies are currently hybrid employers. Which means, while executives may not like it, they know they can’t do without it in jobs where remote work is possible.