Data shows that remote work is a practice that is not going away for the foreseeable future. We show you the research to back this up.
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The future is always full of uncertainty, and with the explosive growth of remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many are wondering what will happen to the workplace as the world slowly reopens. One thing that remains clear is that the pandemic has changed some things in our world permanently. Remote work is very likely one of those things.
Although some workers will have to return to in-person work as restrictions are lifted, we should continue to see an overall steady rise in remote work. Lockdowns and quarantines forced many businesses to figure out a way to work remotely, and now that they’ve seen the benefits and overcome many of the challenges, there’s simply no turning back.
Here are just some reasons why remote work is not going away.
1. The Pandemic is Not Dying Down
Thanks to the available vaccines, hospitalizations, and deaths from COVID-19 are down in many parts of the world, but the virus is still spreading in other places. Many scientists speculate that COVID-19 will become endemic and seasonal like the flu. It will hopefully become less deadly, but at this point, it is hard to say. Bringing everyone back to office space only to have to go virtual again at some point in the future will cause unnecessary stress and waste resources.
Even if COVID-19 disappears completely, there is no reason to think that there won’t be another pandemic from a new virus in the near future. Scientists worry that due to climate change and further encroachment into animal habitats, there may be more new viruses that mutate and “jump” from animals to humans. Hopefully, this doesn’t happen, but the future is uncertain.
What we do know is that remote work is better for employees’ physical health in general. With more remote work, there will likely be less spread of other viruses and illnesses such as the common cold and the flu as we saw in 2020.
2. Businesses are Realizing the Value of Remote Work
There are numerous benefits to businesses for having a remote team. Before the pandemic, many businesses had not yet tried offering remote work, likely because they felt that productivity would decrease, workers would be unmotivated and distracted and communication would be a struggle. However, now that many companies have been forced to try out remote work due to lockdowns and regulations, they have learned that many of their fears about remote work were unfounded. Further, businesses have had a chance to see the benefits of remote work firsthand.
It Saves Money
It is estimated that a typical employer can save an average of $11,000 per half-time remote worker per year. With a full-time remote team, businesses could save up to $22,000 per worker, per year, in addition to saving on overhead such as an office.
Employees save money as well by not having to spend as much on coffee, lunch, a professional wardrobe, and gas. A study from Flexjobs estimates that workers can save as much as $4,000 per year by working remotely.
Easier Recruitment and Better Retention
The overwhelming majority of workers prefer doing remote work to commuting into a physical office. Over 80% of workers surveyed by Owl Labs reported that working remotely would help them to be happier, feel more trusted, and be better able to handle work-life conflict.
Offering remote work is a huge perk that will help employees stick around longer and will attract new talent.
A study done by Great Place to Work found that most workers either kept the same level of productivity after a transition to remote work or increased their productivity. Without a commute or in-person meetings to attend, many workers reported that they were able to get more done.
Less Sick and Personal Days Used
As mentioned above, remote work is generally better for the physical health of employees, even when not in the midst of a pandemic. Additionally, seasonal viruses and illnesses won’t spread through a remote team the way they would through an in-person team working together. Even though everyone on a team might get sick, it is very unlikely that they will all get sick at the same time.
A study done by CartridgePeople.com found that remote workers take an average of 2.4 sick days per year, in comparison to the 2.6 taken by those working from company premises.
With flexible work-from-home schedules and better work-life balance, it is likely that remote workers need to take fewer personal days as well.
3. Workers Are Unable and/or Unwilling to Return In-Person
Since the start of the pandemic, many workers have left large cities and moved away from their offices. Others may have childcare issues due to adjustments made during lockdowns. Still, others have simply gotten used to all the benefits of remote work and are unwilling to return to an in-person workspace.
According to research done by Slate, many people have already left jobs over the fact that they were requiring a return to the office. Managers of in-person teams also reported that it was “exceedingly difficult” to find candidates, especially quality ones, to fill an in-person-only position.
4. Global Teams Are On the Rise
Worldwide employment by multinational companies headquartered in the U.S. and abroad has been increasing and this is a trend that will likely continue. Diversity of thinking, creativity, and access to talent from anywhere are the top benefits noted by companies with global teams. Remote work allows companies to easily hire someone from anywhere in the world without having to ask them to move. Because of this, as the number of global teams increases, so will remote work.
5. Better for the Environment
Companies of all sizes are beginning to realize the importance of taking steps to help the environment. As things like climate change, and air pollution become more urgent problems. We are seeing large brands like Ikea, Apple, and Nike taking big green initiatives. Switching to a remote team is another easy way that companies can help the environment by reducing travel significantly for their workers.
According to Fatmap, In 2017, transport was the largest contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the UK. Most employees cut their overall travel time down significantly when they switch to remote work. We saw the positive effect of this during the height of the pandemic when there was less congestion, cleaner air, and other positive impacts on the environment.
Conclusion: It’s Time To Embrace Remote Work
Although remote work was not in the game plan for many companies, it is clear now that embracing remote work is a smart choice. There are numerous benefits across the board and most of the challenges are easily overcome with the right cloud communication system and tech stack. In the near future, it is likely that working at a physical office will be the exception, not the rule.
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