By now, it’s common knowledge that COVID-19 has changed the way the world operates. One of the major things being how we work. It’s clear that there is a pre-pandemic and a post-pandemic reality as companies have quickly pivoted to adapt in the ‘new normal.’
It’s time for companies to look to the future and adapt to the new way the work-world functions… It’s time to move past the unexpected work-from-home lockdown and rethink the traditional office environment in favor of a system that works for the world today.
How working from home is changing the game
Let’s take a look at one of the biggest factors in the remote work versus traditional office debate–productivity.
Work-from-home and remote worker productivity
The growing adaptation to remote work has impacted the way that businesses and employees operate on a daily basis. Not only have businesses worked to restructure the traditional office set-up, employees have also needed to discover new and unconventional ways to accomplish their tasks.
With the transition that has proven successful in various companies, let’s take a look at how remote work is affecting productivity.
- A survey of 1,500 hiring managers found that due to COVID-19, 62% of companies were planning more remote work now and in the following years to come (Upwork).
- This same report predicts 36.2 million workers or 22% of Americans will be working remotely by the year 2025–an 87% increase from pre-pandemic levels (Upwork).
- In 2020, nearly 70% of businesses said they were making long-term changes to management practices to adapt to remote work (Codility).
- Despite somewhat difficult circumstances for working remotely, 77% of respondents agree that after COVID-19, having the option to work from home would make them happier (Owl Labs).
- 23% of full-time employees are willing to take a pay cut of over 10% in order to work from home at least some of the time (Owl Labs).
- Employers can save an average of $11,000 per half-time telecommuter, per year. The savings are from the lower cost of office space, increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, and less turnover (Global Workplace Analytics).
- The most popular benefits of working from home include no commuting, saving money and improved work-life balance (Slack).
Potential setbacks for a home-office set-up
With all of the benefits of remote work also come some issues that companies need to keep in mind.
- The top challenges of working from home are unstable Wi-Fi or internet access, maintaining and building working relationships with colleagues, staying focused and avoiding distraction, feelings of loneliness or isolation, and collaboration with co-workers (Slack).
- 10% of workers have also stated that they’re not comfortable working from home, 11% claim that there are too many distractions in their home offices, and 13% complain of having inadequate equipment (Travelperk).
- Burnout is a very real threat to workers and over half of workers (51%) said they’re concerned about experiencing burnout from back-to-back calls when working from home (Travelperk).
As a study by Slack found, remote team members’ sense of belonging can suffer when working outside of the office. The experience of remote workers varies drastically across job roles, seniority, genders, available childcare and other factors. For example, experienced remote-work employees tend to report higher levels of satisfaction and productivity than their peers with less experience.
Working from the office has its benefits too
With all of the technological and convenient influences on the modern workplace, we can’t fail to mention some of the pros of the office-first model.
- Learning on the job is a key advantage to spending physical time in the office, with 60% of workers saying the best way to learn a job is being around co-workers. Specifically for younger generations (Gen z and Millennials) who may be starting a new job, seeing more experienced colleagues interact and problem solve is a useful way to build confidence and develop their own skill (Travelperk).
- Researchers found when people spent more time interacting with others—talking, socializing and connecting—they displayed improved mental function, increasing cognitive performance (University of Michigan).
- People who are in close physical proximity are three times as collaborative and see greater output in academic papers and patents (MIT).
- Team relationships have taken a hit, with over half (56%) of office workers saying they’re concerned about a lack of team spirit or working relationships (Travelperk).
- 26% of employees said they missed meeting their teams face-to-face when asked about why they like going to the office (Travelperk).
- Many people feel in-person meetings are essential and produce more productive work. 60% of workers say they do more prep for in-person meetings than they do for online (Travelperk).
- 77% of those who work remotely at least a few times per month show increased productivity, with 30% doing more work in less time and 24% doing more work in the same period of time (ConnectSolutions).
Understanding what employees want
Keeping your employees happy, healthy, and properly prepared is the key to keep your business running smoothly. With all of the changes taking place around the world, it’s crucial to equip your workers with what they need in order to improve output and retain your team talent.
- 82% of U.S. employees want to work remotely at least once a week when the pandemic is over. Only 8% do not want to work from home at any frequency. 19% said they would like to telecommute full-time. The balance would prefer to work a hybrid-remote schedule (Global Workplace Analytics).
- 59% of respondents said they would be more likely to choose an employer who offered remote work at least part of the time, compared to those who didn’t (Global Workplace Analytics).
- 54% of U.S. workers say they would stay with their employer but be less willing to go the extra mile and 46% would look for another job if they were not allowed to work remotely after the pandemic (Owl Labs).
- More than a third of workers would take a pay cut of up to 5% in exchange for the option to work remotely at least some of the time; a quarter would take a 10% pay cut; 20% would take an even greater cut (Owl Labs).
- 23% of those who telework are willing to work longer hours from home than they normally would onsite to accomplish more (ConnectSolutions).
- Remote positions can help employees save between $600 and $6,000 per year by working at home half the time. Those savings are primarily due to reduced costs for travel, parking, and food (Global Workplace Analytics).
- In terms of time, a half-time telecommuter saves the equivalent of 11 workdays per year in time they would have otherwise spent commuting. Extreme commuters save more than three times that (Global Workplace Analytics).
- 1 in 2 people won’t return to jobs that don’t offer remote work after COVID-19 (Owl Labs).
- Almost half of employees feel their commute is getting worse; 70% of them feel their employers should take the lead in helping them solve the problem (Global Workplace Analytics).
The future of work: a hybrid model
Companies are quickly discovering that combining remote work and time at the office is a solution that not only improves company productivity, but the lives of employees at the same time. The hybrid working model will enable employees to move between workspaces based on their needs.
- 76% of employees confirmed a shift to hybrid work in their companies as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic. (Travelperk).
- The vast majority of global knowledge workers (72%) prefer a hybrid arrangement that combines the home and the office. Workers are far less enthusiastic about going all in on one environment: Only 12% would prefer working from the office all the time, and 13% want to work from home full-time (Slack).
- 80% of employees consider telework a job perk (Global Workplace Analytics).
- Flexibility is one of the highest-ranked benefits by Millennials, even higher than student loans or tuition reimbursement (Gallup).
- 20% of workers feel that they are more productive in an environment where they are able to choose when to work at home and when to go to the office. (Travelperk).
- 26% of people surveyed said that a hybrid work situation gives them a better work-life balance (Travelperk).
- 95% of employers say telework has a high impact on employee retention (Global Workplace Analytics).
Heading into the future with a hybrid work solution
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach for the upcoming years; however, one thing is clear–it’s time to work differently and create a modern company culture and work environment that gives workers autonomy, responsibility, and flexibility.
Employees who feel they have an active role in their work environment report a higher level of satisfaction for work-life balance, stress, anxiety, mental health management, productivity, and overall satisfaction. Employers also need a forward-thinking and future-minded way to increase productivity and maintain a positive work environment.
Looking for innovative and creative solutions that address the concerns of both employees and employers is essential to establish a strong foundation in this next era of the modern-day work reality.