Over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, more people were forced to work from home than ever before. Now that vaccines are widely available and more people are getting vaccinated, some businesses are considering whether working from home is still something they want to offer employees.
Prior to Covid, only about seven percent of the workforce even had the option to work from home. Over the course of the pandemic, 88 percent of organizations encouraged their employees to work from home. And today, about 20 percent of the entire workforce can work remotely three to five days per week. Now that many workers have had a taste of working from home, only about 24 percent expressed any interest in returning to the office full-time post-Covid.
This leaves many employers in a bind, and many are exploring the idea of allowing more employees to work from home on a regular basis. Of course, there are arguments both for and against instituting more flexible work-from-home policies. Let’s take a look at both sides of the argument to see which one might be best for your organization.
The Case for Working from Home
There are a number of benefits—both to employers and employees—to working from home, at least on a part-time basis.
For employees, working from home generally offers a better work-life balance, partially because commute times are essentially eliminated (the average commute time is about one hour/day round trip). Workers also like the idea of being able to work anywhere in the world, allowing them to potentially save money by living in more affordable areas. In fact, savings from remote work can be as much as $4,000/year when taking into consideration saved gas and other living expenses.
But it’s not only employees who can save money by working from home. Businesses can save money by reducing their office footprint, energy usage, and other costs related to maintaining physical offices. One estimate values the savings for business to be as much as $11,000/year/employee if only 25-30 percent of workers continue to work from home.
Limiting commutes through remote work also has an environmental impact. For example, China saw a 25 percent reduction in carbon emissions and a 50 percent reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions (i.e. greenhouse gasses), which are largely attributed to lockdowns. To be sure, there is also an economic impact related to lockdowns, but it’s clear that allowing more employees to work from home
Finally, it appears that remote workers are more productive than office-bound workers, taking shorter breaks and working more. Certainly, that’s something most employers want to see, even if it means they can’t directly supervise workers.
The Case Against Working from Home
As much as the benefits of working from home are tantalizing to both employers and employees, there are some drawbacks.
Employees often express feelings of isolation and lack of team cohesion. One survey found that a majority of workers missed workplace conversations and camaraderie of working from the office.
They also sometimes don’t have the right equipment, software, or office supplies to work from home or a slower internet connection that can dramatically affect their work performance or even their participation in video calls. Of course, employers can offer stipends to home workers, should they need to.
And even though most employees want flexible work schedules in the future, this can make it very difficult for businesses to manage in terms of having the right people or resources available when needed for in-person work.
Bridging the Gap
Most employers weren’t set up to handle remote workers at the start of the pandemic. Today, though, many have found a variety of tools and developed policies that make working from home manageable.
To help bridge the gap, Zenvoy offers a number of community-building tools for employers that help them build strong workplace cultures. Contact us to learn how Zenvoy can help you foster a community for both remote and in-person workers.