The pandemic the world is experiencing with COVID-19 has forced numerous employers to allow more of their employees to work remotely. Although many companies have resisted widespread remote work policies for some time, more have been forced to accept it. With cell phones, computers, and conference technology, working remotely is not as difficult as some employers would freely like to admit.
Proponents of remote and telecommute work have claimed for some time now that the benefits of working away from a traditional office far outweigh the negatives. While many jobs are now performed at home during the pandemic, companies are discovering not all roles need to be in a conventional office space. Employers have been forced to embrace a work from home policy.
Although a lot of jobs have been moved to a home office for the health and safety of co-workers, will it last once the pandemic ends? The lasting results of a growing remote workforce are yet to be seen. There are some workplace experts claiming remote work will only continue to grow while others argue it won’t last.
Advocates for remote work claim the pandemic will forever change the world in which everyone works and remote work will be the new normalcy for a lot of roles. Other experts are not completely sold yet on more employers allowing remote work once the pandemic is over. Their belief is that several companies will never fully embrace a culture of mostly remote employees.
With so many businesses now working remotely, will the trend continue after the pandemic?
Employers Will Learn About Remote Work During the Pandemic
It should not come as a surprise that not all companies were equally prepared to work entirely remotely. The good news, if you like working remotely, is that some companies are likely to continue allowing people to work outside of a traditional office. Companies that were prepared for a remote workforce prior to the pandemic likely were already shifting in that direction. The businesses that were not entirely prepared for most of their employees to work remotely may also continue to allow it. Yet, the contrast between the companies being prepared for remote workers prior to the pandemic and the ones that were not might be very different.
Employers that embraced the technology to allow remote work and even encouraging it prior to the pandemic were already moving in that direction. Companies that had to shift to this model that will be in favor of it in the future will likely do so because they will learn the benefits of having remote workers. Companies are going to learn there can be real cost savings to having workers outside of a corporate office building.
Although remote work has been growing, it really hasn’t ever taken off to the numbers seen in the pandemic. Part of the reason has been a resistance to change. Also, some workplace cultures have just never been open to remote work and they never invested in the technology to take advantage of it. People can do their jobs outside of the office and in some instances even do it better from home.
Cost Savings Could Continue the Remote Workforce
With the outbreak of COVID-19 and a shutdown of economies around the world, most businesses are having a challenging time financially. Responsible companies and business owners that have decided to retain as many people as they can rather than letting them go will need to make changes. These changes are going to be a trade-off in support of doing the right thing and keeping people employed. The only way this will be achieved through a recovery is to cut costs. Continuing to allow remote workers will be able to achieve this.
One of the largest costs for many businesses is the overhead expense for office space. This space can come at a large price depending on the number of employees. Add the costs for utility bills, maintenance, and security. It can quickly be easy to see a lot of money can be saved by having a majority of workers remote. Even though this should not come as a surprise to most companies, more of them are finally going to realize the potential savings.
For companies that truly need to cut costs following the pandemic, remote work at these businesses will continue and even grow. Some companies will have no choice but to continue a remote work culture in order to survive. But others might arguably only continue the trend until the economy recovers. It remains to be seen which employers will embrace a remote workforce indefinitely, but it is almost certain that many will not once an economic recovery occurs.
Remote Work is Not Easy for Everyone
Even though quite a few people are enjoying working remotely, it is not for everyone. This is one potential reason the number of remote workers could either increase or decrease at the end of the pandemic. A study from the Society for Human Resource Management has found that 71% of employers are struggling to adjust to remote work. This same study stated 65% of these employers are having a challenging time maintaining employee morale.
Not everyone is easily adjusting to remote work. This includes both employers and employees. This will have a direct impact on the continuation of remote work for everyone.
Employees and Working Remote
With nearly two-thirds of Americans being forced to work remote due to the pandemic, not all employees at companies were prepared for the change. Some are dealing with it better than others. This was shown in a study by SHRM on the impact of the pandemic and mental health that revealed nearly 2 in 3 remote workers are feeling depressed at least some of the time. The same study also further showed high levels of burnout related to work.
Studies related to remote work and the pandemic are clearly showing that not all people are going to do well working away from a traditional office. The reality is there are different types of people. Some of the feelings of work depression could easily be attributed directly to the stress of COVID-19. Yet, there are people that enjoy being around others each day and working closely together. These workers do not like isolation and remote work continuing for them after the pandemic will be difficult. This is something several employers will have to look closely at in order to determine if remote work policies remain.
For the type of person that doesn’t mind working alone remotely and can embrace the advantages of working outside of a traditional office, these workers will have a much easier time adjusting.
Employers are going to need to look closely at how a majority of their workers either enjoy remote work or have a challenging time. This will have an impact on if a company allows remote work to continue after the pandemic.
For the simple type of characteristics for someone being either an introvert or extrovert, the extrovert will more likely not enjoy remote work compared to their introvert co-workers. Remote work is really a good time for the introvert to finally shine.
Not All Employers Accept Remote Work
Once the pandemic ends, there will be employers that simply know a majority of their employees will function better in a traditional office. This certainly can be the case for businesses that truly rely on close teams meeting face to face. These companies will have no choice but to retain their office space even if there is a tight budget to contend with until an economic recovery occurs.
Although some companies will return to a common office space following the pandemic because their business model truly relies on it, others will reinstate a shared office culture for other intentions. Many companies during the pandemic are going to learn their business can work fully remote. However, these employers are still going to resist a mostly remote workforce and there are several reasons why.
Some employers just are never going to be able to get used to most workers being remote. Traditional values in what the workplace should look like will not be something several companies will be able to get over. For these workplaces, remote work will not continue.
Probably the largest reason certain workplaces will not continue to have remote workers after the pandemic is due to control. There have always been various reasons employers have given for not wanting to allow more remote work. The typical excuses are it doesn’t facilitate good communication and collaboration. The problem is most of the arguments against remote workers do not hold up very well given today’s available technology. For some companies, it will be more challenging to explain why they can’t continue having remote workers once the pandemic ends. Yet, the businesses that do not want to surrender total control over their employees will use some of the same standard explanations for not wanting to continue with a remote work policy.
Most companies that have not worked remotely are going to learn the benefits of it during the pandemic. They will discover in most cases that communication does not suffer and efficiency can increase.
Productivity can benefit from having remote workers. Studies have shown this repeatedly. I have even written a previous article on this subject that truly shows the positive aspects – The Real Reason Companies Do Not Offer Remote or Telecommute Work. Even if some employers do see the benefits of remote work, control will be a challenge for many of them to give up. These employers will not be in favor of continuing with remote work once the pandemic ends.
Now is the time for every business to take a close look at traditional workplace values. The reason for this is most of them exist due to exactly tradition and not a necessity to function properly. Several employers have been slowly adopting a culture of remote work while so many more have been resistant to this change for some time. It is time for more companies to recognize the benefits of remote work and the pandemic is providing this opportunity.
Studies are showing a growing number of companies are now opening up to more remote work as a result of the pandemic. A report by Conference-Board.Org showed that 77 percent of the employers surveyed expect an increase in the number of employees working primarily from home. The study went on to state that 70 percent of the respondents believe 1 in 10 of their employees will be working primarily from home 12 months after the pandemic.
It is clear most companies will need to look carefully at how they operate now and following the pandemic to ensure their survival. I believe many of them will indeed accept and support a growing remote workforce. This is mostly due to the opportunity the pandemic has presented in teaching so many companies remote employees can work. The cost-cutting benefits of remote work alone will encourage a growing number of employers to allow it more often.
I believe companies are going to embrace more remote workers. However, more businesses will likely move to more of a telecommute policy over favoring fully remote employees. An employee that telecommutes is one that would work outside of the office part-time and in the office par-time. This structure allows an employer to not fully give up control over their employees while working to get more comfortable with a fully remote work policy.
For some employer’s remote work will become more prevalent, but for others, it will still take some time to truly make a long-term change following the pandemic.