Working from home was never intended to become a permanent measure. In fact, it was an unthinkable idea in the early days of Covid-19.
Now that many companies have had their workers stationed at home for almost a year due to the pandemic, employees have conformed to this new work structure and it could remain ideal in 2021 and even beyond.
The workplace is experiencing the biggest remote work experiment in history. According to a survey from OwlLabs last year, 69% of U.S. full-time employees are currently working from home. With so many people in the U.S workforce now doing their work remotely, will they head back to the office when businesses incrementally reopen?
It all depends on the companies and even the workers, but several Sillicon Valley tech companies are leading the way in reversing the traditional 9 to 5 “home to office” work environment. Companies like Facebook, Twitter, VMware, Stripe and ChowNow are among those that are allowing permanent work-from-anywhere policies as well as salary adjustments.
Jennifer Christie, Twitter’s chief human resources officer said in a memo last spring, “Opening offices will be our decision. When and if our employees come back will be theirs.”
In recent months, many major companies have announced remote working extensions or that employees can work remotely long-term. Tech giant Google has extended its work-from-home policy to September 2021 and also plans to accommodate remote work indefinitely.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said in December that it “seems likely” most employees won’t be back in the office before June 2021 and job recruiting company Indeed told all of its 10,000 employees to remain remote until July 2021.
Microsoft has plans to re-open offices this month but is also offering work from home permanently to some employees on a case-by-case basis.
REI, Uber, Zillow, Reuters, Square, Salesforce, Amazon, American Express, Airbnb, and Spotify are among many more companies who have extended working from home remotely.
Initially moving from the office to the home had been a culture shock for millions of employees, but the advantages have far outweighed the disadvantages for both the workers and the corporations.
For example, companies are seeing more assignments completed in time as one of the benefits of working remotely includes increased worker productivity and more hours to complete tasks.
With no more time being used up for commuting, workers are having more personal time in the mornings to sleep longer or spend time with their families. Additionally, work styles have become far more accommodating. One worker may feel more productive wearing cozy pajamas with music blasting while another employee works better in a quiet home office with the doors closed.
One of the biggest perks of working from home has allowed some employees to ditch the city life and move to more affordable suburb areas. Though some companies have been controversially reducing salaries as much as 10% for those opting to live in less-expensive cities, many workers are still moving out of the cities in droves.
VMware is one company that has been adjusting pay based on factors including the cost of labor and income tax rates in an employee’s new location.
“We’ve told everyone: If you’re not comfortable, no problem, stay put,” said Rich Lang, senior vice president of human resources at VMware, on workers coming back to the office.
A Global Workplace Analytics survey of employees working remotely during the pandemic found that 73% are very successful when working from home, and 86% say they feel “fully productive” working from their home office.
Many workers are obviously happy with this new work lifestyle, but for some employees it has been quite grueling. Distractions at home can be plenty and many do not have adequate space at home to create quiet work environments.
Working at an office also allows one to mentally detach from job stressors and leave them behind when they go home. Work life and home life have become blurred for some workers and this can be very difficult to manage.
For work-at-home parents, working from home can also be complete chaos, leading to parents feeling trapped while they juggle their kids’ schooling and their own work assignments. At least for some there is the benefit of more quality time with the family and eliminating childcare costs.
Regardless, it will be interesting to see how the future of work will look. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg may have been on to something when he said last spring that up to half of Facebook’s employees would work from home within five to 10 years.
“We are going to be the most forward-leaning company on remote work at our scale,” the social networking CEO said in an interview last year.