This year’s COVID-19 pandemic has positioned millions of employees into a ‘working-from-home’ economy. At least this is how Stanford economist Nicholas Bloom likes to identify this new reality.
Bloom, a William D. Eberle Professor of Economics at Stanford’s School of Humanities and Sciences, has conducted several nationwide surveys this year to present a snapshot of what our new ‘working-from-home’ reality is.
According to the results revealed this past June, a staggering 42 percent of the U.S. labor force was now working from home full-time. Bloom has found that almost twice as many employees are working from home compared to the 26% that are still on business premises, which includes mostly essential service workers.
As employees continue to create makeshift office spaces in their kitchens and living rooms to lessen the spread of coronavirus, many big companies are exploring the idea of virtual work from home solutions even in a post-pandemic world.
“A number of corporations are developing plans for more work-from-home options beyond the pandemic. A recent separate survey of firms from the Survey of Business Uncertainty that I run with the Atlanta Federal Reserve and the University of Chicago indicated that the share of working days spent at home is expected to increase fourfold from pre-COVID levels, from 5 percent to 20 percent,” said Bloom to The Stanford News.
“Of the dozens of firms I have talked to, the typical plan is that employees will work from home one to three days a week, and come into the office the rest of the time,” he added.
Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has said that as many as 50% of his company’s employees could be working remotely within the next five to 10 years in an effort to create “more broad-based economic prosperity.”
Twitter has also said that it will allow some of its workforce to continue working from home forever if they choose. The company believes that if employees feel they are in a situation that enables them to work from home, they should be able to do so indefinitely.
Square, which is run by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, is additionally allowing staff members to work from home once the pandemic ends. Even when offices reopen, the company has said that employees will be able to work from home indefinitely should they choose.
Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield announced in June that his company too is going to allow employees to work from home indefinitely. Slack offices will be closed until June 2021 at the earliest.
Tech giant Google revealed this past summer that it had extended its coronavirus work-from-home order all the way to the summer of 2021, a move that affects “nearly all” of Google’s 200,000 employees.
A recent Google survey of its employees discovered that most want to return to the office at some point, but not every day. Google is planning “hybrid” models for future work, including rearranging its offices, said Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai in an interview with Time magazine in September.
The survey revealed that 62% of Google employees want to return to their offices at some point, but not every day. 10% of Google employees — down from 20% surveyed in May — said they don’t want to come into the office at all in the future while 15% said they’d only want to come into the office “Ad hoc” or for particular events.
“I see the future as being more flexible,” Pichai said. “We firmly believe that in-person, being together, having a sense of community is super important when you have to solve hard problems and create something new, so we don’t see that changing. But we do think we need to create more flexibility and more hybrid models.”
For years engineers, designers, and all kinds of professionals have claimed that remote work is the future. Now it looks like a substantial majority of tech companies are finally on board to go all-remote or add flexibility to the schedules of their employees once offices re-open.
New roles being offered by several companies are now being filled by remote candidates. Hopes for a quick recovery from the coronavirus pandemic have faded which leaves companies having to rethink the framework of their work culture.
Many employees feel happier in this remote-first world. A Global Workplace Analytics survey of employees working remotely during the pandemic has found that 73% note that they are very successful when working from home, and 86% say they feel “fully productive” working from their home office. Out of the 3,000 respondents, 76% want to continue working from home at least 2.5 days per week, on average.
Other companies that have either extended remote work or have adopted policies for permanent arrangements include Adobe, Capital One, Amazon, Shopify, Microsoft, PayPal, Salesforce, and outdoor retailer REI who even plans to sell its new and unused 8-acre campus.