During the 2020 pandemic, American workers got a taste for remote work. But even when things returned to normal, the workplace didn’t.
Not only has remote work exploded in the American workforce, but researchers from the University of Chicago believe that by 2030, between 50 and 80 million of the world’s desk jobs will transition to remote work for the majority of the time.
For employees, remote work remains preferable to the morning commute. One survey revealed that a staggering 64% of remote workers would rather quit their jobs than return to the office. This means that remote opportunities are better poised to win talent from in-office companies. Here’s what that means for your organization.
The workplace communication provider Slack completed a 9,000-person survey and discovered that a staggering 72% of workers would prefer to retain a hybrid model, while another 13% would prefer to exclusively work from home. Only 12% wanted to return to the office altogether.
Another survey from Owl Labs found that 59% of people would choose an employer who offered remote options over one who did not.
This data tells us that the American workforce is eager for remote opportunities. Companies will have to continue to offer this option to attract and retain top talent.
Remote work is about more than just convenience. Adapting to a remote or hybrid workforce can have significant advantages for both the workers and the companies they work for. Here are just a few of the reasons why remote work continues to outperform in-office companies.
The most immediate impact of this transition is employee morale. The Owl Labs survey found that on average, remote workers reported being happy 22% more than in-office workers, and they reported less stress and a better work-life balance.
From an HR perspective, this means greater job satisfaction, which can be a valuable asset in retaining quality team members. Offering the chance to work remotely can therefore help you improve employee engagement.
Of course, the idea of allowing employees to work unsupervised has led to a lot of hand-wringing questions about worker productivity. But data from Stanford University reveals that working from home gives employees a 22% productivity boost.
The flexibility that comes with remote work also means that employees are better able to adapt and innovate, which can be ideal for certain types of tech ventures or other creative industries. Remote work can therefore drive innovation even as it brings a boost in employee engagement.
Remote work minimizes (if not eliminates) a company’s dependence on physical overheads. A fully-remote workforce, for example, requires no physical building or office space. This can greatly boost the company’s profit margin.
Even a hybrid model can minimize the number of assets dedicated to employees (phone lines, computers, etc.), which makes this a great option for companies looking to save money.
That also goes for the workers themselves. Without the daily commute, workers save on the time and gas money that usually goes into the sedan. And with recent spikes in gas prices, these savings can be a big deal for American workers.
A fully-remote position has no geographic requirements. A company in California can hire someone living across the country in Virginia. This gives companies a broader talent pool to draw from, ensuring that they connect to the best possible people.
For the employees, this also means that they have an easier time connecting to a position that fits them or finding the best possible salary. Best of all, there are no fees associated with relocating for a new position.
Office environments are great for certain types of workers. But unfortunately, many parents of young children struggle to balance the roles of parent and employee. Single parents especially may find themselves facing barriers when asked to report to work for a 40-hour workweek.
The same is true for certain types of disabilities that make it challenging to go to work in person.
Companies seeking to amplify their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies can do so through remote work options. Remote opportunities offer flexibility to ensure that employees of all types have access to meaningful employment.
And yes, roughly one in four employers are assisting their employees with the cost of setting up a remote workstation, which can be welcome news for the economically underprivileged.
Technology has always had a way of reordering our social worlds, from the telegram to the steam engine to the twenty-first-century wireless router. Remote work, now here to stay, brings about great advantages, but companies may still need to address some challenges with a remote workforce.
New employees may find it challenging to integrate into the company culture. Video meetings and instant-messaging apps are handy but won’t necessarily help new hires learn what it’s truly like to work for a company.
The onboarding process may therefore look a bit different moving forward, with greater touch points for workers integrating into a remote environment.
Collaboration is easier when your team can all convene in the conference room. But a remote workforce will need to continue to find tools to help them collaborate on projects. This extends to video calls as well as programs that allow users to share documents, sync files, and delegate roles.
Writing for the Atlantic, Derek Thompson suggests that the future will require the leadership of a “synchronizer,” a workplace leader who would be responsible for helping bring new hires, existing leaders, and team projects into alignment.
This role would be especially important for hybrid positions, in order to ensure that employees are able to “sync” up at committed intervals to collaborate on projects or simply learn more about the company.
All of the above data indicates that remote work is here to stay. As companies learn to adapt to these new trends and preferences, they will have a competitive edge over companies committed to an in-person workforce.
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