Will we work from home forever?

By - Lewis
14.09.20 09:09 PM
In early March, Twitter and Facebook were among the first companies to close down offices and send staff to work from home—even before government agencies issued lockdown orders to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Fast-forward two months later, the two social media giants declared that most employees will at some point be able to telecommute permanently.

Large businesses have continued to extend their work-from-home policies. In many cases, they’re even making remote work a permanent fixture. Google, for example, initially told employees to work from home until June. Most recently, the search giant announced that workers could telecommute until July 2021.

It’s not just Silicon Valley tech companies. Most employees for investment banks like Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan are still working from home. Entertainment company ViacomCBS and music labels such as Universal Music Group, Sony Music Group, and Warner Music Group have told workers to work remotely through the end of 2020.

Now that we’re about half a year into the remote work experiment, many employers have determined that the advantages of letting employees work from home may outweigh the negatives.

Herein lies the question: is remote work here to stay in the corporate world?

Most employees want to work from home
Studies show that 43% of those who previously commuted to work telecommuted during the height of the pandemic—and they enjoyed it. Remote workers say they are more productive and have better work-life balance since they don’t have a commute and can work flexibly. In fact, workers also report significantly higher levels of engagement when they work from home.

When the global health crisis is over, most employees still want the option to work from home at least part of the time. According to a survey by PwC, nearly three-quarters of employees (72%) said they’d like to telecommute at least twice a week after the pandemic is over, while nearly one-third (32%) want to work from home full time.

In a survey of 9,059 workers, 48% work from home during the pandemic and have a Workforce Happiness Index score of 75 out of 100, which is four points higher than employees who still have to go into their offices, according to a report by CNBC and SurveyMonkey. Remote workers are also more satisfied with their jobs: 57% of telecommuters say they are very satisfied versus 50% of non-remote workers who say they are very satisfied.

Companies want more remote work, too
As COVID-19 still lingers (and spikes), many are planning on making remote work permanent. In the short term, extending work from home keeps both employees and the company safe from safety-related events. In the long term, the flexibility of remote work promotes higher employee satisfaction and engagement, leading to significantly higher performance and retention. It's a win-win.

74% of CFOs surveyed by Gartner said at least some of their employees will be allowed to permanently work from home after the pandemic ends.

Not all workers can work from home
While remote work is something both leaders and employees want, it’s not an option to all workers. Only 37% of jobs can be done from home, according to University of Chicago economists.

For employees who can work remotely, 68% still want at some access to the office. Of those, 8% want to work full time in the office and 60% want to take a hybrid approach and be in the office a few times a week, according to PwC’s remote work survey.

The top reason people say they want to go into the office is to collaborate with other team members. Difficulty collaborating is a major reason people give for being unproductive while working from home (39%). They miss face-to-face interactions.

Others are simply more productive in the office because they have too many distractions at home. PwC found that 38% of remote workers feel balancing work with home duties, such as childcare, made them unproductive while working from home.

Coronavirus reshapes office working
When the health crisis is (finally) over, employees for some companies will return to their offices full time. Some will transition to 100% remote work. But most will likely take a hybrid approach, where employees work at home half the time and in the office half the time.

A permanent, flexible workweek has broad support among both executives and office workers, according to PwC’s latest remote work survey. While 83% of office employees want to work from home at least one day a week, more than half of employers (55%) anticipate that most of their workers will do so post-pandemic, the survey found.

For example, insurance company Nationwide is moving to a hybrid model. When the pandemic began, the company allowed 98% of its 27,000 employees to work from home and discovered that employee performance did not suffer. 

As a result, Nationwide executives have announced plans to reduce 20 physical offices down to four main corporate offices, which will help the company save huge costs. Employees in the closed down locations will work from home permanently, while employees at the four remaining offices can split time between home and office, according to a magazine article.

Preparing for the remote future
Telecommuting has earned a permanent spot in the corporate world, and as we recover from the pandemic, more and more people will work from home in some way. That’s because not only is remote work better for safety purposes, but also fosters higher engagement and job satisfaction.

It’s also clear that many workers can’t work remotely. From restaurant staff to hardware engineers, many industries will return to normal after the pandemic. At least for now, most offices won’t go anywhere—but that can change in the near future.

Companies planning to expand remote work opportunities will need the right tools to maximize productivity amongst remote teams. While office workers can simply walk to a colleague’s desk to collaborate, remote teams don’t have the same convenience. It’s up to a company’s tools to facilitate communication and collaboration.

Unified communications solutions like RingCentral bundles team messaging, video conferencing, and cloud phone into a single platform in the cloud, allowing employees to access all of their communications from anywhere, on any device, and at any time. Employees can easily switch from messaging to voice or video calls with a single click, keeping collaboration as effortless as possible to start.

Speak to Ostratto today to find out how we keep businesses connected and productive.

Written in collaboration with RingCentral©.