Is a short-term shift poised to change the way employees work in the long term? Due to the pandemic, organizations had to quickly pivot to working from home, accelerating a workplace experiment that had previously been popular in a few sectors but had never before been done on such a large scale across industries.
Regardless of a company’s previous capabilities, quarantines and lockdowns pushed organizations into the world of working remotely. Before the pandemic, only about 5% of Americans worked from home, but by the fall of 2020, approximately 60% of American workers had shifted to remote working. This move to working from home was a seamless shift for some companies but a major struggle for others.
Now, with months of remote working experience, businesses will have to ask themselves if remote work will remain a permanent fixture post-pandemic.
Does Remote Work Make Employees More Productive?
Before the pandemic, Stanford University conducted a 9-month study with 16,000 workers that showed working from home increased productivity by 13%. Since the pandemic began, even more studies have shown that productivity while working from home is better than working in an office setting.
In 2020, several months after the pandemic started, Harvard Business Review conducted a study on the productivity of working from home and uncovered several key findings, including:
- Focusing on key tasks. Remote workers spend less time in meetings and more time interacting with customers and partners.
- Taking personal responsibility for schedules. Remote workers perform tasks because they see them as important rather than being told or asked to do them.
- Viewing work as more worthwhile. Remote workers see their own work as more valuable and are, therefore, less likely to describe tasks as tedious and delegate them to others.
With less wasted time commuting, remote workers even tend to work more than 40 hours a week, by choice, further increasing productivity.
Digital Transformation Creates New Opportunities
The pandemic forced companies to change the way they operate, likely transforming many businesses forever. Business leaders had to examine their operations and consider how they could pivot to this new normal. Many took the opportunity to amplify the adoption of new technologies. Digital transformations for companies accelerated in many areas with changes that would generally have taken years reduced to mere months.
These digital transformations included technologies such as video conferencing and file sharing, advances that increased employee interaction and collaboration as record numbers of employees adjusted to telecommuting. Digitization of customer channels increased as well, including e-commerce, mobile apps, and chatbots.
While these digital transformations may have been driven by a need to create contactless solutions and virtual interactions, thanks to the pandemic, the technology isn’t going anywhere. It will continue to help businesses as they navigate their recovery in 2021. Businesses will be able to use their greater online presence to continue to connect with customers and provide them a seamless digital experience.
The Future of Working From Home
The pandemic has taught us to look at almost everything differently, and that includes the future of working from home. Remote work is consistently a sought-after benefit from employees, with a majority of current telecommuting employees and on-site employees indicating that they plan to work remotely more often in the future.
For some companies, telecommuting may even save your business money. Global Workplace Analytics estimates that employers can save money due to lower real estate costs, reduced absenteeism, and less turnover. A survey by Owl Labs found that many employees would take a pay cut for the benefit of working from home permanently. Telecommuting could also reduce costs related to business travel.
However, there are additional challenges that can arise from remote work, both for some employees and some businesses. There are many essential employees whose jobs are not conducive to working from home, as well as some Mom and Pop shops that don’t have that option. Additionally, many employees who were thrust into a work-from-home scenario found themselves struggling with children who were simultaneously doing virtual learning, as well as a plethora of other distractions. Many employees simply found themselves quickly missing the in-person collaboration that happens naturally in an office setting.
While remote working may find a more permanent foothold in some industries, it may not be right for every organization. It comes down to asking yourself what is best for your business. However challenging the pandemic has been, the recovery is an ideal chance for every business to ask if there are more efficient ways to conduct their operations.
We’re all figuring out ways to do business differently, but thanks to you, business still happens. At Safeguard, we are here to help you navigate whatever comes next. You can depend on your local Safeguard Advisor, who has ideas, new products, and services to help build a path to your success. Call 855.778.3124 to get started.
- Remote working has increased by over 50 percent, from 5% to approximately 60% of American workers.
- Quarantines and lockdowns pushed organizations into the world of remote working.
- Studies show that productivity while working from home is better than working in an office setting.
- Telecommuting may save your business money.
- Remote work is consistently a sought-after benefit from employees.
- You can depend on your local Safeguard Advisor, who has ideas, new products, and services to help build a path to your success.