Although people spent much of the pandemic wishing that the world could return to normal, now that vaccines are administered and people can return to the office, not everyone is in a big hurry to do so. In fact, most workers who can work from home favor the idea of doing so for at least part of each week. Companies are trying to determine the best way to cater to their employees while still fostering creativity and innovation.
What Employees Think
There are many reasons people have grown attached to a remote work environment. For example, there is more free time in the day without a long commute, and people have more energy to spend time with family. Family responsibilities like childcare and elder care are also easier to deal with if people are not in the office for 8 hours a day. There is also just a sense of ease without jumping into the rat race every morning.
Along with a lifestyle change, there is a financial component. Business Insider reported, “More than a third of those surveyed said they saved at least $5,000 a year by working from home.” Without commuting costs, lunches out, and extensive clothing budgets, people can save money in addition to improving their mental health.
Because of these reasons and numerous others, employee surveys have shown that working from home is here to stay. Apple has recently hit the news because nearly 90 percent of workers who responded to a survey said they “strongly agree” with the statement “location-flexible working options are a very important issue to me” and 59% of workers felt like colleagues might have to leave if not allowed flexible work.
These statistics show that even as the country heals from the pandemic, the workplace environment will not instantly return to pre-pandemic status. Business Insider reported, “just 2% of respondents said they wanted to work in the office full time.”
So, if workers came out of the pandemic wanting to continue working from home, what do employers think? CNBC reports, “High-profile companies like Microsoft, Apple and Google say they will be using a hybrid work model, where workers spend time working both from the office and from home, going forward.”
Susan Lund, a partner at McKinsey & Company and leader of the McKinsey Global Institute, spoke on studies conducted on worker productivity at home. “So what we find is that in the short term, people are definitely as productive.” She also said, “Long term, there are questions about innovation and new products and new ideas are going to be as forthcoming because of the remote work setup.”
These are the same questions that many employers are grappling with. Many employers are cognizant that people are interested in a hybrid model of work, and are taking strides to make it happen, while trying to determine the best way to keep everyone engaged.
Caring for Employees
Businesses are definitely changing, and many of the conversations are focused on helping employees. Forbes magazine reports, “Companies like PwC, Microsoft and IBM are hedging their bets on long-term hybrid work models to satisfy employee demands for flexibility, but prioritizing mental health and wellness will also be critical to appease new workforce priorities in the office of the future.”
Creativity wins the day for leaning into employee’s needs and giving them the tools to thrive wherever they might be working. Cynthia Kantor, Chief Product Officer of Corporate Solutions at JLL, a Fortune 500 company with revenues of $16.6 billion in over 80 countries, has employed Experience/Anywhere, a program which connects employees whether at work or home. “This includes ‘The Hub,’” she said, “a digital portal that integrates directly with employees’ calendars to block time for micro-habits to combat work-stressors felt throughout the day. With employers thinking outside of the box, businesses will manage the changing work environment.
Sara Sutton, founder and CEO of FlexJobs. “The landscape of remote work has permanently changed as a result of Covid-19, and its impact will be felt in the job market and the workplace well into the foreseeable future.”
With creativity and initiative, employers will be able to create a dynamic work environment for those in their care. The pandemic seems to have helped the corporate world slow down a bit, and shift focus towards whole person, rather than just a worker who punches the clock. Being valued as a person with a life and family outside of work will likely make employees more productive and happier while at work. And that will undoubtably help a company’s bottom line.