Those able to work from home during the pandemic report higher productivity, less stress.
For the fortunate few who get to call working from home the norm, perhaps not much has changed during the pandemic. Accustomed to juggling the responsibilities of work with personal obligations, those who have been able to stay home for some time have the schedule down pat. However, for the millions who have transitioned to this structure amid the coronavirus, life has changed drastically – and in a good way. The social distancing and stay at home mandates put into place during this unprecedented time have forced many employers to quickly adopt an at-home work structure where one may not have been previously available. And, recent surveys show employees are loving it.
Jeff Anderson, 61, a self-described introvert and anthropology professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York, dreads returning to the office. “Just walking from the parking lot to my office I feel like I could be sick,” he said. “It’s that bad.”
Multiple surveys show Anderson is not alone. In fact, the vast majority of American adults working from home would “prefer to continue doing so as much as possible” after the pandemic, according to a Gallup poll. Another global poll that included 2,250 office workers suggests many are much happier working from home. The survey, conducted by OnePoll in conjunction with GoTo by LogMeIn, included 1,000 U.S. office workers, 250 in India, the U.K., Brazil, and Germany, 125 in Australia and 125 in New Zealand.
Seventy-seven percent of survey respondents “believe working from home is one of the most effective ways to help the environment.” And, the poll revealed “8% of participants would happily take a pay cut if it meant they could work from home indefinitely.” Other cited benefits in the surveys include heightened productivity away from meetings and time-sucking workplace gossip.
“We’ve long seen the benefits of remote work to allow employees to have more flexible schedules, but as most of the world has turned to full-time remote working amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the unexpected benefits is the impact this is already having on the environment,” said Mark Strassman, SVP and GM for Unified Communications & Collaboration at LogMeIn.
For those who have extensive commutes, working from home saves them the daily exhaustion getting to and from the office. Christine Reilley, director of strategy and innovation for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, normally catches an early bus into Manhattan. Now, she doesn’t have to worry about waking up at 4:30 A.M. to ensure she makes it there on time or paying for bus fare.
“I’m better rested. I can devote more time to my work,” she said. “Just saving the time and money of commuting, I really like this personally.”
Of course, telecommuting simply isn’t possible for all industries, especially those on the frontlines fighting the spread of COVID-19, grocery store personnel, delivery workers, and many positions in the trades. For parents given the option to telecommute, managing busy children and job responsibilities simultaneously can be difficult.
“For remote work to be successful, employers need to provide the right equipment and other support,” said Laurel Farrer, chief executive of Distribute Consulting, a business consulting firm. Most notably, individuals working remotely need to have a solid work ethic and demonstrate they can get the job done without direct supervision. The proper software solutions need to be offered and accessible. And, time management skills are a must. When all of the right pieces fall into place, advocates contend it’s an employer-employee win-win.