Before the 2020 coronavirus pandemic started, 47% of the American workforce had never worked from home. After COVID hit and lockdowns started, 44% were working from home for five or more days a week. Not every job is compatible with the work-from-home (WFH) lifestyle, however; but for many companies, the WFH experience came with them into 2021--but with some key differences.
Nearly a year ago, employees sent to work from home were scrambling to figure out how they would manage. Their employers wondered how they would hold everything together. How things have changed.
Remote Work is Normalized
Prior to the pandemic, people who worked from home were in the minority. Whenever the topic came up in conversation, their friends had lots of questions for them.
- How do you concentrate?
- How do you structure your day?
- Do you miss getting out during the day and socializing with people?
Now that at least half the workforce has experienced at least a brief stint of working from home themselves, the WFH lifestyle has undergone somewhat of a normalization process.
Now, the questions people ask are based much more on personal experience than curiosity: "Don't you hate it when your dog interrupts your meeting?" That sort of thing.
Demand for WFH Employees is Up
While at the beginning of the pandemic, WFH felt like a temporary solution to an otherwise-unsolvable problem, many businesses have found over time that having WFH employees allows them to exercise new levels of flexibility and freedom. They can sell their brick-and-mortar offices (or, at the very least, significantly downsize) and allow large portions of their teams to connect virtually without losing any level of functionality.
Certain members of the workforce, too, have found they have a taste for the WFH lifestyle:
Before the crisis, surveys repeated showed 80% of employees want to work from home at least some of the time. Over a third would take a pay cut in exchange for the option. While the experience of working at home during the crisis may not have been ideal as whole families sheltered in place, it will give people a taste of what could be. The genie is out of the bottle and it's not likely to go back in. (Global Workplace Analytics)
That's why, even as the pandemic restrictions lift, we expect to see WFH options continuing into the future. With employees and employers alike having tasted the benefits, it's no surprise we're seeing increased demand on both sides.
Hybrid Work Models on the Rise
People talk about "getting back to normal," but it's clear not all of them want that. In a survey conducted among remote workers mid-summer of 2020, only 12% of them claimed that their desire was to get back to the sort of in-person office life that they'd been sustaining pre-pandemic. Instead, the vast majority (72%) expressed a preference for a hybrid remote-office model. With employees and employers alike having little interest in returning to pre-pandemic systems, hybrid work models prove a happy medium and stay on the rise for some time.
Remote Work Is Here To Stay
It's currently projected that by the end of 2021, more than 20% of the workforce will be working from home effectively three to five days a week. What the long-term effects will be on transportation, spending, and urban economic ecosystems remains to be seen; however, this much is clear: remote work is here to stay.
For more on the latest in remote work trends, or to discuss CallTower's premium services, please feel free to contact us. We look forward to helping you and your business level up.