With the rise of the pandemic in 2020, most of the corporates had to shift their operations to remote working. After months of living without commutes, business clothes or makeup, many workers want to keep it that way. Not all employers are down with this. The big business debate of 2021 may be whether the disadvantages outweigh the advantages of work-from-home for employers.
One of the biggest benefits that employees gain through working remotely is that they no longer have to commute to work. Commuting has led at least 1 in 4 respondents to quit a job, according to the Airtasker study. In fact, many workers said they would be willing to give up a lot of things to end their commute.
The average American's commute is now nearly 30 minutes. That much time on the road means workers are spending more money on fuel, not to mention maintenance and repair costs due to the wear and tear on their vehicles. According to researchers, the average remote worker saved more than $4,500 on yearly fuel costs. The lack of a daily commute also led to a slight decrease in maintenance costs, with remote workers spending $55 per month versus the $59 per month office workers spent. Additionally, it helps the environment by decreasing the number of people taking cars, trains, and buses to and from the office.
Along with the cost savings, respondents said they noticed that they had more free time once their commutes were eliminated. On average, employees said they had an extra 17 days' worth of free time as a result.
Some of that regained time has gone to building healthier exercise habits. According to researchers, remote employees spent two hours and 44 minutes on physical exercise each week, marking a 25-minute increase over office workers.
Additionally, sickness spreads quickly among co-workers sharing the same office space. Offices are typically packed with people who work in close proximity to one another and share germs without even realizing it. With the spread of the coronavirus, many states have issued stay-at-home orders, and many companies have mandated that employees work from home to "flatten the curve" of the pandemic. Allowing your team to work from home helps stop the spread of COVID-19 between members of your staff with other employees and their families.
Benefits of remote working
@ Have flexible hours. Working nine to five isn’t a realistic model for most employees because of differing energy levels, task durations, and personal schedule needs such as childcare dropoff or health and wellness days. Remote work allows employees to remain productive within the hours when they feel the most innovative, so they can plan for the right amount of task time, and accommodate basic needs.
@ Work and live anywhere. As long as employees are able to finish their work at the same high-quality level and communicate with their core team, as needed, they can pretty much set up shop anywhere with a WiFi connection.
@ Eliminate or reduce commuting. Long commutes negatively impact everyone involved — employees, their families, and even their employers. Eliminating this altogether will save every individual roughly nine full calendar days of driving or riding back and forth.
@ Save on team building events. Save on social events such as birthday or holiday parties and instead focus your budget on high-impact areas. You can still help your team bond virtually but at a fraction of the cost you’d normally expect to spend on things like rental space and activity materials.
@Improved Mood and Morale. Escaping the hectic pace of the job can improve mood and boost motivation. Meditative spaces offer a break from customers, coworkers and the boss. Being alone can help an employee feel more grounded and less anxious. Sometimes getting away even for a few minutes can lift the spirits and build resiliency.
At the moment, companies are managing in varied ways. Some have given employees permission to continue working remotely until at least 2021. Others have recalled staff to the workplace on different schedules and in staggered groups. Still others are leaving it entirely up to individual workers to decide where to base themselves.
But businesses around the world are also starting to think about the longer term, including alternative ways to structure work communication and hours as well as physical presence. While ‘hybrid’ is key to understanding the more flexible future of work, it encompasses many possible systems. Hybrid work tends to include more freedom around when to work as well as where. It generally grants more autonomy to employees to fit work around the rest of their lives, rather than structuring other parts of a weekday around hours logged in an office. Ideally, it’s the best of both worlds: structure and sociability on one hand, and independence and flexibility on the other.
A common procedure of existing hybrid companies, accelerated since the pandemic started, is to designate certain days for in-office meetings and collaboration, and remote days for work involving individual focus. Physical presence might be required for orientations, team-building and project kick-offs, but not necessarily for other work.
Some forms of remote work are likely to persist long after COVID-19 is conquered. This will require many shifts, such as investment in digital infrastructure, freeing up office space, and the structural transformation of cities, food services, commercial real estate, and retail. It also risks accentuating inequalities and creating new psychological and emotional stresses among employees, including from isolation. For most companies, having employees work outside the office will require reinventing many processes and policies.
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