It was only two years ago that the idea of working from home was a luxury and a far-fetched idea. The true reasons why employers didn’t want employees working remotely were likely due to a lack of trust, a need for control, or the idea that it may be abused by employees.
Well, the pandemic hit and whatever rationale existed for not endorsing remote work was thrown out the window because there was no other choice.
With working remotely being the standard for over a year now, how do employees and employers view our current situation? Are we faring better working from home? Are employees prepared to give up remote work or is it here to stay? Does it reduce productivity? These are some questions that both employees and employers need to answer as we chart our course of action in the future.
According to an npr.org article called The Great Resignation: Why Millions of Workers are Quitting published on June 24, 2021:
“The great migration to remote work in the pandemic has also had a profound impact on how people think about when and where they want to work.
‘We have changed. Work has changed. The way we think about time and space has changed,’ says Tsedal Neeley, a professor at Harvard Business School and author of the book Remote Work Revolution: Succeeding From Anywhere. Workers now crave the flexibility given to them in the pandemic — which had previously been unattainable.”
On June 17, 2021, washingtonpost.com published an article titled Millions of workers are quitting their jobs during the pandemic. Meet six who made a big change.
The article quotes Kristen Jennings Black, a professor who studies employee health and well-being. She states, “Once we figured out we can work from home, many of us pretty effectively, it was just the question of, ‘Well, why would I go back?’”
This point was further supported in another article published June 24, 2021 on cnbc.com titled ‘I’d rather bet on myself’: Workers are quitting their jobs to put themselves first. “Some employees have enjoyed the flexibility of working from home so much that, according to one survey, 39% of people said they would consider quitting if their employers weren’t flexible about remote work moving forward.”
On July 8, 2021 hrreporter.com gave some indication that employers are embracing the change with the article Sun Life announces super-flexible return to office.
“Sun Life has shared its vision for post-pandemic work: Employees will be allowed to choose when and where to work. Most of the company’s 12,000 workers in Canada will be on a ‘flexible’ work arrangement, where they will not be required to work from the office any minimum or maximum number of days. Instead, they can choose where they work at any given time based on the activities they need to complete, guided by client and business needs.”
Even banks like RBC have embraced the idea. A financialpost.com article from July 14, 2021 outlined RBC’s plan to embrace flexible and hybrid work models and put into practice what they’ve learned from working during the pandemic.
Undoubtedly, other companies will follow suit to support a more flexible work arrangement for employees.
Both employees and employers have benefited from working remotely. Starting with the most obvious: there is no need to commute, which means more rest. People can also save a substantial amount of money on mileage, gas, daycare, before and after care services, work clothes, and lunches. More rested and happier employees may need to take fewer sick days and may be more productive during work.
Benefits to employers range from savings on commercial rental space, fewer sick days, less employee turnover, better quality of work, and less burnout from employees’ daily commute.
Though some may argue that there are also many disadvantages to the remote work model, it is not expected to be one size fits all, but rather an opportunity for employees to have flexibility and choose what works best for their lifestyle.
This may be the way of the future and in order for employers to be competitive and attract and retain top talent, they will need to be flexible in accommodating remote work. For years it was assumed that a remote model of work was not feasible or practical, but now it has been proven that it can be done. Therefore it will be extremely difficult to justify reverting to the traditional approach of working.