Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Who’s Going Back to the Workplace?

Twitter. Google. Facebook. These three tech giants announced during the fairly early days of the pandemic that their employees were likely to retain the option of working from home indefinitely.

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Remote Work Forever a Growing Trend

But it’s not just tech companies that are leaning in this direction. Recently, NPR reported that “Nationwide Insurance is shutting down five regional offices since remote work has gone off so smoothly during the pandemic.” Thousands of its employees will no longer need to commute to get to work.

The list of companies realizing that managing a remote workforce isn’t as unwieldy as many once believed is continuing to grow almost daily. In fact, many companies—and employees—are finding that remote work leads to increased satisfaction and productivity.

Learning from the Experience

According to early Gallup research, more than half of the at-home workers it has been surveying on a weekly basis indicate that even after restrictions are lifted, they would prefer to “work remotely as much as possible.”

The number, though, has declined from a high of 62% of those responding between March 23 and 29 to 53% of those responding from April 13 to 19.

More than half of the managers surveyed indicated they were currently allowing employees to work remotely and anticipated they would continue to do so even after restrictions have eased.

Following up on that data in October, Gallup reports that nearly two-thirds of U.S. workers who have been working remotely during the pandemic would like to continue to do so.

“In all, 35% of those who have worked remotely would simply prefer to do so while 30% would like to do so because of a concern about COVID-19. Another 35% say they would like to return to working at their office,” says Megan Brenan, for Gallup.

A New Normal

These numbers don’t suggest a sea change—that suddenly everybody will be working from home. These numbers—and other studies—do suggest, though, that the workplace post-COVID is likely to look dramatically different than it did before.

In fact, signs point to a workplace that is a hybrid of on- and off-site staff, perhaps even moving fluidly between the two extremes as needs and preferences demand.

Organizations should be considering how the shifts they’ve made have impacted employees, managers, customers, clients, and the bottom line. As Gallup reports, “According to Global Workplace Analytics, ‘a typical employer can save about $11,000 year for every person who works remotely half of the time.’”

Workers also benefit, it says, saving between $2,500 and $4,000 per year when working from home.