When the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe, companies everywhere had to figure out ways to keep running while social distancing and protecting the health of their employees and customers. Remote work became more mainstream than ever before.
Upwork's recent Future Workforce Pulse Report indicated about 41.8% of Americans remain fully remote and 68% of managers say it is getting easier to adapt to work from home solutions. Although telecommuting was a temporary solution to a sudden catastrophe, it is quickly shaping into something lasting.
There are a number of reasons why remote work is here to stay. Here’s why and how businesses in any industry can adapt.
Bigger Talent Pool
Companies see there are some advantages to them when they’re open to remote workers. No longer are they limited to a pool of candidates in their town. They can expand their reach to professionals across the country, allowing them to hire the best of the best.
If your company lacks expertise in an area, you can easily fill the gap when hiring by choosing someone with those specific skills. Since teams are getting better at working online through project management tools and Zoom meetings, your entire staff can learn from new hires with specialized knowledge.
Smarter Solutions for Security
In the past, some brands worried about going fully remote because of sensitive data they needed to protect. Fortunately, new advances in workstation security and better training have reduced the risk of cyberattacks dramatically. One of the biggest vulnerabilities to company security comes from decentralized devices.
Today, solutions such as device management tools allow businesses to standardize device configuration and security settings. You should also create policies, such as standards for passwords, regular changes in how people login and two-factor authentication.
Better Work/Life Balance for Employees
Now that people have a chance to work from home, they realize the advantages of a better work/life balance. No longer do they spend an hour each way commuting to and from work.
A happier employee is naturally going to stay with the job longer and feel freer to present creative solutions to your organization's biggest challenges.
People who are happy in their roles also experience less stress. The results are fewer sick days and more engaged staff members. At the heart of your company is your employees. If working from home helps them find satisfaction in their roles, it will benefit your bottom line.
Increased Productivity and Focus
Have you ever felt all the work meetings and conference calls waste a lot of time you could be getting more important work done? You aren’t alone. In the survey by Upwork mentioned above, around 70% of managers praised the reduction in meetings due to remote work. They found more got accomplished in the same time as when in an office setting with regular meetings.
It makes sense productivity might rise with many work-from-home options. People don’t have the distraction of navigating through traffic, co-workers distracting them and worries over responsibilities at home.
PWC surveyed business owners and found around 83% of managers feel the move to remote work has been a success. Less than one-fifth of employers want to return to pre-pandemic office environments. Company leaders see the advantages of employees working remotely at least part of the time.
Reduction of Costs
In addition to better productivity and happier employees, there are numerous benefits to companies moving to a remote or hybrid model. Fewer workers in the office means you can cut down on the space used. This reduces your overhead dramatically.
Some companies choose to have a rotating hybrid workforce. For example, on Mondays and Wednesdays, Crew A works in the office. On Tuesday and Thursdays, Crew B works in the office. They work from home at other times. This means half the workforce is in the building at any given time, reducing space needed, impact on the environment from commuting and allowing companies to reduce their carbon footprint.
Think about the many small costs and how they add up. When people work in an office, they generate more waste which you must pay to dispose of. You might have to refill the water station more often, buy more coffee, pay more for cleaning. There are dozens of little costs all adding up when you have more staff on-site.
You might also find you can hire better qualified people for the same salary when they have the perk of working at home. When given the choice between working in an office or remote work, a skilled professional might choose the work-at-home option even if it pays slightly less than the in-person work situation.
Meeting Employee Expectations
A recent Gallup poll showed about 56% of workers continue remote either part or full-time. Around 23% say they'd prefer to remain at home permanently if given the opportunity. Now the workforce sees the advantages of working from home, they may not want to give up the benefits.
In a highly competitive environment where finding qualified candidates is a struggle, offering the perk of remote or hybrid options may land the employee you want on your staff. Talk to your current workers about their preferences. Be open to what interviewees want and ready to come up with creative solutions.
A Post-Pandemic World
As more people get vaccinated and the number of COVID-19 cases drop, companies and employees are ready to get back to full functionality. The workplace will most certainly look a bit different. Companies who want to thrive will assess what works and what doesn’t for their particular brand. Be open to new ideas and flexible work options to keep up with the trends.