Remote work was growing in popularity long before a global pandemic forced organizations to vacate their busy offices. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 29% of college graduates worked from home at least on occasion, and many more considered telework an attractive job perk. But with lockdowns introduced across the U.S. due to Covid-19, that number grew to a staggering two thirds of Americans who are now working from home full time.
Many organizations across various industries resisted the move to remote work for years, primarily due to inertia and entrenched norms. Business leaders also feared a decrease in productivity and difficulties in managing their dispersed teams. But as many of them were forced to make a move to telecommuting overnight, they found that under the right circumstances, their employees can be as productive, if not more so, than at the office.
While telework is not the right choice in every industry and in every line of work, the fast-paced changes of the last few months are expected to outlast the pandemic that triggered them. The benefits of remote work are undeniable and businesses that adapt to this new work environment will thrive in the years to come. Here are just a few of the reasons why.
Over the past few months, remote work has been one of our most powerful defenses against Covid-19 and will continue to be in the months to come. Many conferences, in-person meetings and even handshakes have been deemed unworthy of the risk of infection. Moving events and meetings online enabled businesses to keep their staff protected and maintain productivity.
And we don’t see this changing in the near future. According to the New York Times, a wide range of organizations are planning to be among the last to return to in-office work. Google and Facebook announced that their employees would work remotely for the rest of the year. Nationwide Insurance moved 4,000 of its employees to permanent telecommuting. These decisions do more than just protect staff from a possible infection. They enable employees to better manage unusual circumstances at home. They also give management enough time to reconfigure open office floor plans for safer alternatives.
Businesses are looking to keep their operations running and their teams productive, and they are finally investing in long-postponed technology upgrades. Covid-19 was just the push that they needed to bring their communications into the 21st century. As managers turned their in-office teams into a remote workforce overnight, they found that most of their staff can easily complete their tasks from anywhere and any device, particularly in white collar industries.
Hosted VoIP technology connects employees to the company phone system from home and allows them to place and receive calls from their laptops as if they were sitting at their desks. Team collaboration has never been easier with the video conferencing, chat, screen and file sharing included in leading-edge services. Even team building activities and happy hours can take place online with a few adjustments and a little creativity.
Seeing that their distributed teams are as efficient as ever, many businesses will be in no hurry to return to the office, but will rather take advantage of their new investments to keep their employees safe.
If there is one major lesson that we need to learn from the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s that we need to be better prepared for unforeseen circumstances. Telecommuting and remote collaboration tools used to be seen as a nice-to-have perk and were pushed to the back of the priority list. That left many business leaders scrambling to shift their strategies and introduce remote work on a hurried timeline, just to keep their business afloat.
But telecommuting ensures business continuity in a number of situations, not just during a global pandemic. Whether an employee has to stay home with a sick child, or your offices are inaccessible due to inclement weather, having a strong infrastructure for remote work keeps your team productive and your business running, no matter the circumstances. Many organizations that haven’t done so already will implement remote communication tools to ensure that they are not caught unprepared ever again.
Before a global pandemic forced us all outside of our comfort zones, numerous organizations across the U.S. were resisting the push to remote work. Anxious about potential management challenges and a loss of productivity, many business leaders are now recognizing that their worries were unfounded. In many industries, employees seem to be just as productive from home, if not more productive than they were at the office. This is particularly true of knowledge workers.
For many employees, making progress on projects is much easier away from the noise, movement and distractions of the office. With no morning commute or travel between meetings, workers have more time and energy to dedicate to their tasks. They are also more willing to work overtime when needed. Businesses that continue to be productive and found effective ways to manage their dispersed teams will likely continue to offer some level of telecommuting long after the pandemic is over.
Even before Covid-19, at least 30% of workers considered the option to telecommute an important measure of job satisfaction. It is safe to assume that this number has dramatically increased since. A once nice-to-have job perk is now becoming a basic requirement in many industries.
Allowing employees to work from home gives them the flexibility to balance their personal and professional responsibilities more easily, resulting greater job satisfaction. Happy employees work harder and stay longer, which reduces turnover and decreases the cost associated with recruiting and onboarding new employees.
Giving employees the option to telecommute also positions businesses as desirable employers and allows them to attract a wider pool of qualified candidates. It also enables them to hire professionals from across the globe and build the robust teams they need to thrive.
With an economic recession looming, it comes as no surprise that most businesses are attempting to reduce their costs in the hopes that a lean operation will help them weather the storm. In these last few weeks, many were compelled to rethink their expenses and reduce their office spaces. As their employees are successfully completing their work from home, some are considering making these changes permanent.
Enabling even part of their team to work remotely can significantly reduce their operating costs. With less office space, equipment, business travel and lunches to pay for, organizations are better equipped to handle financial distress and can invest more in other areas critical for their business.
Remote work has many benefits. Even though there are many jobs that simply cannot be performed from home, including positions in manufacturing, retail or hospitality, there is no question that remote work is becoming the new norm. The organizations that adopt this technology are the ones who will thrive in the long term and dominate the next decade.