Last March, workers packed up on the fly and headed home for what they thought would be a few weeks at home with the threat of Covid-19 looming. One full year later, the temporary thoughts of remote work have been replaced by the idea that working from home is here to stay, at least for a while. Because many large companies are continuing the remote work, companies and politicians are trying to create some policies and procedures to make remote learning more palatable.
Remote Work Lingers
Before the pandemic, remote working had a sense of stigma, and few people were involved. According to a study conducted by FlexJobs, “In February of 2020, only 4.7 million Americans, or roughly 3.4% of the population, worked remotely. In the past year that number rose to 42%, as the pandemic forced offices to close.” With such a large increase in the number of remote workers, some changes are necessary if the work is to continue.
Forbes Magazine recently reported that “Tech companies such as Google, Twitter, and Facebook have already announced that they would operate remotely until June 2021 and that workers were not expected back into the office.” When these giant companies stay remote, others are likely to follow.
Powerful Positives of Remote Work
Companies have much to gain by working remotely. The remote work force is cheaper to manage, as a company will save money on rent and utilities, as well as cleaning, since no one is in the building every day.
There is also evidence that employees do more work when they are at home. Business News Daily reported, “Remote employees work an additional 1.4 more days per month than in-office employees, which is nearly 17 additional workdays a year.” Although some bosses might worry that people are just goofing around at home, studies indicate the opposite.
Drawbacks for Companies and Employees
When people move home to work, they lose the sense of community that is found on the job, and end up feeling more isolated. According to PBS News Hour, “Forty-nine percent of mothers reported feeling isolated during the pandemic, significantly more so than fathers (36 percent) or non-parents (35 percent).” Women are forced to juggle careers, household chores, and online school for their children, making for a very stressful situation.
Companies also lose out where creativity is concerned. Innovation happens at the water cooler and when people get together to share ideas. Without this time, some of the big ideas and brainstorming are lost.
Taxes and Cost of Living
Despite the good news for companies, there are still some concerns with remote workers in relation to where they actually are working from. For instance, local taxes and cost of living get tied together when remote workers can work anywhere. Should salaries remain the same if people move to a place with a lower cost of living? And who pays the taxes for people working in different locations throughout the year? Companies are addressing these concerns and trying to make the situation work for all concerned.
Along with the relocation plans, some companies think employees should be paid less if they are moving to an area that has a lower cost of living. The Wall Street Journal reported “Companies such as payments firm Stripe Inc. have offered employees leaving San Francisco, New York or Seattle the chance to relocate for a one-time bonus of $20,000 if they agree to a salary cut of up to 10%.”
What Does the Future Hold?
Considering that remote working is here to stay, companies and politicians are becoming part of the solution, and remote workers can expect some help in 2021 to make their work/life balance work much easier and to make companies run more efficiently. There are a few ways this will happen.
- Politicians are planning stimulus packages, and there is talk about looking at existing tax and employment laws.
- With more remote workers, more tools like Zoom are made available, and there is more visibility for employees
- Since companies have more time to plan, rather than the panic of the March 2020 lockdown, employees will also have a greater ability to separate life and work.
With so much at stake, companies are realizing that remote work is not as difficult as they first thought, and actually offers some perks. Companies are capitalizing on these opportunities while still making sure that taxes are being paid and money is being made.