A recent study found that post-pandemic employees plan to work from home 20% of the time. This figure has risen a startling 15% since the outburst of COVID-19.
Before the pandemic, many doubted the efficacy of the WFH model. Could employees remain productive without face-to-face accountability? Was it cost-effective to duplicate technology for home offices? Would the lack of socialization deteriorate productivity and morale? Yet, millions of workers worldwide had to work from home (WFH) when COVID-19 closed workplaces in early 2020.
Despite initial challenges, WFH is here to stay, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). In fact, the WFH trend will continue burgeoning because it benefits both organizations and employees.
What benefits have made WFH so likely to continue?
- It has worked better than expected.
Productivity didn’t drop. Employees behaved, and social networks didn’t collapse. In a recent Survey of Working Arrangements and Attitudes (SWAA), 76% of employees found the WFH experience met or exceeded expectations. And 42% found the experience substantially better than expected.
- The initial outlay isn’t extreme.
WFH demands commitment since setting up an efficient home office requires time and money. However, SWAA data indicates that the average US employee invested only 15 hours and $561 in facilitating their WFH needs. These up-front costs amounted to merely 0.7% of the annual gross domestic product (GDP). For most WFH employees, these initial costs were doable since they paved the way for a productive WFH experience.
- Negative perceptions proved incorrect.
Prior to the pandemic, a study estimated that productivity would drop by 12% for home-based workers. Yet, WFH employees handily disproved this misconception by being as productive as ever. A newer SWAA study showed that 75% of respondents now view WFH more positively than pre-COVID.
- Workers know the pros and cons of WFH.
There are many advantages to working from home, but participants also report some disadvantages. Here’s a fair account of both viewpoints.
- Lower wardrobe costs.
- No commute or gasoline is required.
- More time to spend with family.
- Residential flexibility.
- Diminished distractions.
- Minimized meetings.
- Scheduling flexibility.
- Reduced childcare costs.
- More distractions when children are home.
- Decreased sense of professionalism.
- Reduced promotion opportunities.
- Lack of socialization exacerbates depression.
- Difficulty achieving work-family balance.
- Inability to leave work at the office.
- WFH technology has grown.
US patent applications for WFH technologies have increased significantly. As these products develop, WFH will expand. Additionally, services such as counseling and healthcare have moved into the WFH model.
The NBER predicts WFH will impact the economy in three significant ways:
- Highly educated, well-paid employees will enjoy considerable WFH benefits.
- Optimized working arrangements and less commuting will increase productivity.
- Major city downtown areas will lose 5–10% of their current revenue due to WFH arrangements.
While WFH has proven positive overall, businesses must creatively compensate for income lost to this popular post-pandemic trend.