As we ease out of the pandemic, businesses that were able to transition to remote working are now confronting a very new-age question: do we go back to the office?
Working remotely can be just as, if not more productive than working in the office. A study of over 800,000 employees at Fortune 500 companies found that most of them reported stable or increased productivity levels since starting remote work. Much of the reason for this is due to the elimination of commutes and lengthy in-person meetings. According to the Florida Department of Transport, on average, employees spend 54.8 minutes commuting to and from work. Over the course of a year, working from home would save an employee over 238 hours of leisure time, on top of the mental and physical health benefits that come from not having to deal with traffic every day. Cutting these stressful and time wasting activities out of your employees’ day increases employees’ morale substantially, allowing them to be just as, if not more productive in the short-term.
Working from home can also be a sizable barrier to creating your own company culture. Being in the same physical environment, such as an office, allows your employees to create a sense of camaraderie and togetherness that is hard to replicate over video chat. Cultivating strong work relationships and shared values inevitably leads to increased productivity and growth.
Striking a balance between convenience and culture is important to employees. Employees have made it fairly clear that they prefer to work from home, at least sometimes. A study conducted by Prudential in March found that ninety percent of employees would like to work from home at least once a week, but a third of them also said they would not work for a company that was remote full-time. For employees, balance is key. Being able to spend time in the office is a necessity for most of America’s workers, but being able to reap the benefits of working remotely from time to time is also very alluring. Being able to merge this online sphere of work with a physical office will be one of the biggest challenges facing any business that chooses to maintain some remote functionality.
Many of the world’s largest companies continue to work remotely, with a few of them allowing their employees to work from home indefinitely. American Express, Capital One, and Amazon are allowing employees to work remotely until a given date, usually Labor Day 2021 (September 6th, 2021), at which point they will resume in-person work. On the other side of the spectrum, Atlassian, Coinbase, DropBox and Shopify are allowing their employees to work remotely permanently. Many more companies are bringing back a fraction of their employees, allowing many of them to continue working remotely. Facebook and Infosys are allowing up to 50% of their workforce to stay at home. Meanwhile, Microsoft is allowing employees to work remotely for 50% of their workweek, adopting a new hybrid model for work. With Target, Spotify, and Twitter adopting similar policies, having workers be partially remote is a workforce reality.
As you transition from the remote world we lived in to an in-person way of life, remember that there are pros and cons to the traditional way of doing business. By employing new remote methods that have been polished during the pandemic, transitioning into a hybrid model of work or staying fully remote can be very beneficial. Talk to your employees and do what’s right for you.