Will We Continue Working Remotely After the COVID-19 Pandemic?

COVID-19 has brought wave after wave of awful news. Now for some people, the opportunity to continue working at home is a silver lining on this dark cloud. Others don’t view it the same way. The big question is, will companies want people to continue to work from home? 

Unfortunately, businesses probably won’t consider employee preferences. Remote work is one of the most sought after benefits. But only 16% of companies in the U.S. exclusively hire remote workers. An additional 7% offer alternative work-from-home flexibility. In the coming months, this could change drastically. 

Would You Rather Work Remotely?

Many people would prefer to work at home or think they would like to. The stay-at-home orders and work-from-home opportunities were a perfect match. It was a chance to test the waters for many people. You got to experience cutting out your commute, working in pajamas, and juggling parenting while being on-the-clock. 

Remote work is rewarding. So it’s no surprise that most people are ready to set up a permanent home office. 

86% of remote workers report less work-related stress. They also claim higher job satisfaction. 

One Medium writer shared her highly structured daily routine. She wakes up, eats, works, and schedules her breaks.  But that works for her. Various social media platforms are full of people snapping selfies in pajamas or working on the couch. 

Bottom Line

Not every company will jump to let you continue working at home. Many will expect people to return to the office at least part of the time. Some managers aren’t comfortable with their team having autonomy. When that time comes, you might have to question if that’s the leadership you want to work under. Remote work became a reality, and then it vanished. 

This surge in the possibilities for remote work also comes with many companies choosing to reverse their work-from-home policies. Top names on that list include Best Buy, Yahoo, and IBM. 

If you want remote work, there are tons of opportunities available. COVID-19 brought on a lot of unexpected changes. You might need or want to plan a shift in your job or career. Many other people will also look for opportunities because of store closures and negative economic impact. When seeking remote opportunities, you must get creative. Rely on valuable resources and well-curated job boards for support in finding such opportunities.

Some People Want to Return to the Office

There are plenty of jokes going around about extroverts climbing the walls at home. And, there’s always a little truth in comedy. Many people miss the daily interaction and grabbing lunch with friends. The Monday donuts, Tuesday bagels, and birthday parties are an enormous part of many office cultures. 

If you want to return to work, then you enjoy your team. That’s amazing because not everyone wants to go into the office and see their coworkers. But you might have some trouble after the stay-at-home order dissolves. Companies have many excellent reasons to let people work at home. Not to mention the impact of people staying at home rather than commuting is positive regarding the environment and road conditions. 

A work-from-home employee reported how this paradigm causes nothing but procrastination, sloppiness, and loneliness. It’s unfortunate. When people get forced into remote work, they hate it. If you feel you’re getting stale, lonely, just unable to work, then maybe working from home isn’t right for you. 

Bottom Line

Going back to work might not be an option. If your position becomes only work-from-home, that might not suit you. It isn’t for everyone. 

One work-from-home veteran shared his experiences and why he hated it. The claim was that it killed communication because there was no non-verbal element. Then he argued that the significant cost savings of staying home are a choice. He’s right. People could bring a lunch, and they don’t need to go out. Also, people working from home use GrubHub and DoorDash. 

Leaving a position because it’s work-from-home, opens up that position for someone who wants this option. You can find something in a fun and engaging office environment. It could even be easier with many people expecting to work-from-home. 

A Work-From-Home Position Could Be Beneficial. Can I Learn to Love It?

Learning the benefits that come with remote work can make it hard to go back, even if you hate working at home. Some people that are struggling with working from home might also need the financial break of paying for childcare. The benefits of of this can lead people who don’t want a remote work position to keep it. 

So, can you learn to love it?

Maybe, some have. The people who have accepted that remote work is worth the struggle, acknowledge the need to face those challenges head on. If you’re missing the office mingling, then head to an industry event or get involved with an online community. Focus on making meaningful connections, not just office acquaintances. 

If you’re struggling with keeping yourself motivated, then get an accountability buddy.  Ask an old coworker, a sympathetic friend, or use an online platform to have someone to check-in with. Schedule a once or twice-a-week call to run through your tasks and your schedule, then let them do the same. 

Learning to love remote work isn’t easy. But if your family needs the benefits, then consider making some changes. The overarching element of remote work is that it’s flexible. You can use various creative solutions to ease your struggles. 

Will Businesses Find it Desirable to Keep Employees At Home?

As early as 2019, key governors were offering substantial tax breaks for allowing employees to work at home. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker proposed providing $50 million in tax breaks to businesses that used remote workers. 

Bills like this give employers tax benefits for reducing street congestion and  carbon emissions. But there are other ways that employers benefit from using remote workers.

Employer benefits include:

  • Reduction in worker’s compensation insurance premiums
  • Lower need for office space and the ability to downsize
  • Cuts to utility bills, lease rentals, and other office-related expenses
  • Longer life from equipment
  • Access to a greater talent pool 
  • Less absenteeism

Stanford found work-from-home employees improved performance by 13%IBM saved over $100 million. Not to mention that remote staff has lower turnover rates as employees are happier and have a more satisfying work-life balance. 

Unfortunately, when fear rules the executive offices, employers just won’t commit to remote work. Your company may be one of them. It’s not that they don’t want lower costs and better productivity; it’s the fear of losing control and the ability to micromanage their staff. 

Should The Employee Get To Choose?

Most businesses and Human Resource professionals usually agree that there shouldn’t be an option to work-from-home. A company will usually have strict rules on whether employees can work at home, have structured flexibility, or in-office only. 

Employees qualifying or not qualifying for remote work benefits can cause trouble. Say Mike can work at home, but James can’t, the situation can create a hostile environment. Companies often struggle to establish a fair structure that enables productive employees without alienating others. That is why many businesses feel they can’t give employees a choice. Instead, a position usually is or is not remote.

So it comes down to the individual. Will you leave your current position if they require you to return to the office? Or, will you stay and enjoy seeing your team members every day? 

Putting a bet on the upcoming months, many companies will have their staff change to work-from-home positions. For the people who want to go back to the office, they’ll seek employment elsewhere. While people enjoying remote work who get told to return to the office will also start their job search. Many Americans will find alternative employment or even change careers to find a better fit for their lifestyle and maybe become more “essential.”

Although there’s a lot of talk about returning to “normal,” you’re in charge of your new normal. Working how you choose, in an office, or remotely is entirely up to you. However, it may mean a job search you didn’t expect for 2020.