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Remote Work is Here to Stay

9 November 2022

During the first year of the pandemic, in the spring of 2020, I wrote about my own experience of remote work for myself and my team, and it seems that, indeed, some form of remote work is, in fact, going to remain part of our “new normal.”

On August 31, 2022, Gallup released the results of a survey of 8,090 U.S. employees whose jobs can be performed remotely (a full 56% of full-time U.S. workers fall into this category). The survey explored:

  1. Whether these employees were currently working remote-only, a hybrid of remote and in-office, or in-office only,
  2. Where they a) expected to work and b) preferred to work long-term, and
  3. What would their reactions be to not being permitted to work in their preferred location(s).

The results:

On question 1:

  • ~50% of remote-capable employees are working via a hybrid arrangement, remote some days and in-office on others.
  • ~30% are working entirely from home.
  • ~20% are working onsite-only.

On question 2:

  • Hybrid work is increasing – from 42% of employees capable of working from home in February of this year to 49% in June of 2022 and is expected to further increase to 55% by year-end. This aligns reasonably well with workers’ preferences, as 60% prefer a hybrid work scenario.
  • Fully remote work, on the other hand, is expected to decline, from 30% in June 2022 to 20% by year-end. This is less well-aligned with employees’ preferences, as 34% of them want a permanent remote-work solution. However, it’s important to note that fully remote positions, even at the lower rate, would be roughly triple the number they represented in 2019.
  • The 20% of workers who never work remotely is expected to be unchanged – while a mere 6% of survey respondents want such positions long-term.

The key takeaway here is that 94% of U.S. full-time employees who can work remotely want to have that option represent at least part of their work schedules.

On question 3:

Those who can and want to incorporate remote work into their schedules but must perform their jobs full-time at their employers’ offices report:

  • An increasing intent to look for a more flexible position elsewhere
  • An increasing sense of burnout
  • A decline in their life-satisfaction
  • A decline in feeling engaged with their jobs

Employers should take note – the above are all significant increases from June 2021 in worker sentiments.

Some of the benefits of remote work apply to both employees and employers – a team member who is spared a long commute may have more energy to focus on their work, for example.

There are financial benefits for both, too – a pre-COVID study by GlobalWorkplaceAnalyics.com estimated the typical employer could save up to $11,000 annually per remote employee – based on 20 hours per week in the office, and 20 hours of remote work.

For employees, working remotely for 20 hours out of 40 could provide savings of ~$2,500 – $4,000 per year. The same schedule saves the equivalent of approximately 11 workdays per year in commuting time.

Given the current economic climate, these savings (which are probably considerably higher as dollar figures today than pre-COVID) seem even more persuasive as factors in our decision making than they were in 2021.

For employers, allowing for remote work, at least part-time and/or for specific positions, also allows access to a much larger base of talent than limiting themselves to local hires. You have the whole country – the whole world – to choose from.

In addition, less time in the office for team members means (let’s be realistic) less time spent on the inevitable non-work-related chit-chat. However, this can be a two-edged sword, as less chit-chat also means less organic team building, which could in turn lead to less effective communication among team members.

Some of the benefits of remote work may have downsides, too – e.g., parents of small children may find they face more distractions working at home than at work, rather than fewer.

Closely held businesses often have an advantage over larger, more red-tape-heavy firms in their ability to offer their teams the flexibility of remote work, at least part of the time, which may induce key team members to stay in place, rather than seek opportunities elsewhere.

If you have questions on how to handle and balance your employees’ needs and wants with the requirements of your business, please click here to email us directly – we are here to help.

Until next time –

Peace,

Eric

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