Here Is Why We Shouldn’t Get Back to the Office When the COVID-19 Pandemic Is Over
The global pandemic forced millions of workers around the world to experiment with the work-from-home concept, and employers had no option but to quickly find ways to adapt to this seismic shift. The Coronavirus has reshaped society, and some things are never going back to the way they were. Top on this list is the traditional office setting.
Now, all of a sudden, the notion of putting thousands of employees in a building might be a thing of the past. Physical workspaces are giving way to virtual workspaces, and the most lingering question right now is “Should one continue working from home even when the coronavirus crisis has passed?”
Even though some businesses and organizations are planning to reopen physically, the corporate world has changed forever. After months of working from home and enjoying all the benefits that come with it, employees want to continue working remotely even when the global health crisis is over. According to a survey of 25,000 U.S. adults recently conducted by IBM, 54% of employees would prefer remote work to be their primary way of working. More than 75% indicated that they would prefer to continue working remotely at least partially, and 40% suggested that employers should provide employees with work-from-home options.
When it comes to going fully remote, we must admit that most of us are still learning the ropes. However, with all those ideas, tools, and guidelines aimed at helping people to successfully transition to remote work, the benefits are already here for both employers and employees, especially if they are working parents who can now do more for their families and still be productive at work.
Reasons to Continue Working Remotely: For Employers
1.Higher Employee Loyalty and Retention
It's estimated that losing a long-term employee would cost a company anywhere between $10,000 and $30,000. Therefore, any company would want to avoid high turnover as best as they can. And it turns out that companies that provide their employees with remote-work options experience a 25% lower turnover rate than companies that don’t.
When employees are satisfied with the company culture, they tend to be more loyal and willing to stay at the company. As a result, companies save millions of dollars that they would otherwise spend on replacing employees.
When you allow employees to work from home, it shows that you trust them. This level of trust means you have confidence in your workers, and it will make them less likely to leave your company for another.
2. Access to a Massive Talent Pool
Imagine the opportunity to hire from a diverse talent pool without geographical barriers. Employers no longer have to hire people from limited locations or relocate them to places they might not want to live in.
With remote work, the talent pool is limitless. It doesn’t matter where you hire your remote team from as long as they are the right fit for your company. Remote work also decreases bias and increases diversity in a world where promotions were previously dictated by gender or skin color.
The enormous talent pool means that companies can now access talent from all corners of the world, thereby creating more value, which would otherwise be impossible.
3. Increased Productivity
Remote workers can use the time they would waste commuting to get more work done. Research shows that remote workers are working longer hours than on-site workers, and this increases productivity.
The flexible hours that come with remote work are extremely favorable to employees since they can work at their most productive times and focus deeply on their tasks. Employers also get to benefit from this setting by getting better performance from the workers.
4. Increased Profits
Even companies that still argue that remote workers are less productive are making more profits than before. One of the main reasons is that companies no longer need to rent offices and invest in expensive office equipment.
Although you will also be required to provide the necessary equipment to your remote team, you can't compare the costs with those incurred when setting up an entire office. What's more, if you go remote, your company headquarters won’t need to be in Silicon Valley or any other expensive neighborhood. You can pick a location that makes more budget sense. Plus, it will be smaller since almost your entire team is remote.
On top of that, company CEOs no longer need to take business trips to the UK or China when video conferencing services like Zoom and Skype allow them to connect from the comfort of their homes. Less travel means less spending and more time working.
All these factors end up cutting costs for your business, and in turn, you make more profits since less money is going out.
5. Happier, Healthier Employees
There’s no doubt that the idea to work from home is appealing to most people. A survey by OWL Labs found that more than half of the interviewed in-office workers wanted to start working remotely. Out of all those already working remotely, 42% said that they were planning to work remotely more frequently in the next five years.
Working from home allows people to develop and control their schedules. This translates into satisfied employees who are happier with their new way of life. Subsequently, they become more productive and effective at their work.
Take the case of two working parents, for instance. They have to juggle the daily commute, their work, and their roles as parents. These challenges can take a toll on their personal lives, and families suffer the most.
However, thanks to remote work, they can have plenty of time to attend to their family needs while still working conveniently. The best thing is that they can accomplish all that without the stress of rushing to work early every morning and returning late in the evening.
Working from home also improves the health of workers in many ways. With more time for fitness and healthy meals, comfortable and ergonomic ‘home offices’, and minimized exposure to illnesses, to name a few, they can experience better, healthier lives.
6. Stronger Working Relationships
Surprisingly, remote work has brought management and teams closer. Communication has improved tremendously, and employers now say that they spend more time with their employees than they ever did while working on-site.
Jim Collins, the chief executive of Corteva, says that in the last six weeks, he has been more connected to 20,000 employees than he had in the previous six months. This was made possible by the advanced technology and innovations in communication and employee management systems.
Frequent communications make employees feel part of the company and act as a major motivator in how well they perform.
7. More Available Tools for Managing Your Business
The idea of working remotely has indeed been around for quite some time now. And maybe the fear of the unknown is what kept most employers from making the transition. But now, thanks to technology, there’s an app for everything, from managing time zones to monitoring employees to tracking projects to editing and sharing documents – all in real time.
Take Traqq. It is a task-tracking app that allows team leaders to check the progress of each employee. The tool even takes screenshots behind the scenes to show if they are on track or not. The program also makes it easy for employers to analyze their remote team’s performance and rate their productivity levels.
This way, it becomes easy to identify underperforming team members and take the necessary steps to help them improve.
Reasons to Continue Working Remotely: For Employees
1. No More Commute
In a perfect world, people would live 10 minutes away from their workplaces. But the world is far from perfect, and workers are losing more than an hour every day on commuting alone. And mind you, these hours are not included in work time, which means personal time is cut to almost half.
However, with remote work, your office is just a few seconds away from where you sleep. Now you can put the time you used to prepare for work to better use – like getting extra sleep! Or you can sign up for that morning gym class that you’ve been promising yourself for years.
2. More Flexibility
When working remotely, employees have more time to spend with their family, attend to their personal needs, go out as often as they want, and travel as much as they want – all while delivering quality work.
Employees are discovering their unique personalities, and whether you're a morning, afternoon, or night person, you can schedule your time accordingly when you work from home.
The flexibility of working remotely also means more time for self-development, and employees can now take courses to advance their careers with ease.
3. Equal Opportunities for Promotions and Pay Raises
Unlike in the office where promotions were based on visibility and seniority, remote work is data-centric. In other words, the use of project management systems will give employers an accurate analysis of the performance of each employee.
Employers can then promote or give raises to employees based on merit, that is, depending on how they contributed to the company in terms of performance. This way, everyone will have an equal opportunity to advance their careers.
How to Keep Working From Home When the COVID-19 Pandemic Is Over
Even with all the benefits of working remotely, some employers might still resist the concept once the lockdown is lifted and some sort of normalcy starts to resume around the world. It's highly likely that after working from home for the last few months, most employees wouldn’t want to go back to the office.
But how do you get your employer to agree? Here are some tips:
- Make your case. It's still uncertain whether the COVID-19 crisis will be handled completely and how long this might take. Allowing people to go back to offices might create workplace hazards that could only make the situation worse. However, companies are aware of this and are taking extra measures like limiting the number of people in elevators, reducing the number of desks to keep workers at a safe distance, and so on. You could argue that instead of going into all that trouble, allowing you and your team to work from home is way safer and cheaper.
- Choose the right time to have a conversation. It's important to let your employer know that you have a few suggestions to make about the way forward after the coronavirus pandemic is over. A conversation of this magnitude should be held live so you can present yourself clearly and be able to read your employer’s body language.
- Mention your increased productivity. Prove that remote work actually works. Use this period to produce tangible results that are better than those delivered during office days. Deliver quality work every single time before deadlines and be proactive about moving to the next projects or tasks without waiting to be told. Show that you're fully engaged not only during working hours but also whenever a priority task comes up. The point is to exceed your employer’s expectations to prove that you can work better at home.
- Maintain professionalism. Keep your appearance professional. People, especially your employer, tend to think that you’ve been lazing all day if they see you in your pajamas. So, try to look professional, particularly whenever you hold video meetings. Likewise, organize your workspace and work in a quiet environment where your kids or pets won't barge in on you in the middle of an important meeting.
- Gather enough supporting evidence. Share statistical data about how much working from home will increase business profits. One study showed that an employer would save $11,000 per employee on average if employees were allowed to work remotely. On top of that, employees could save up to $7,000.
- Be ready for a “no”. If it's not likely that your employer will be willing to let you work from home, you must be ready for what comes next. If it’s a job you really love and don’t want to lose, you can just move on. However, if you feel like you’ll be better off working remotely, looking for remote jobs elsewhere might be a good idea.
It remains to be seen how companies will decide to move forward regarding whether or not to allow employees to continue working from home after the pandemic is over. Obviously, there are considerations to be made, and the transition might take longer for some companies. All in all, we can't deny the fact that the COVID-19 crisis has impacted all aspects of our lives in ways we didn’t anticipate and most businesses will have to adapt to the new way of working one way or another.