Due to efforts to contain the coronavirus, more American workers than ever before started working from home. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the hands of business owners to do what many companies have resisted doing for years — allowing people who can work at home do so. They were just “allowing” people to work from home. They were demanding it.
Now, as the country’s businesses slowly open back up, I believe this “great work-from-home experiment” will reveal what I’ve been saying for decades: Working from home is not only an “option,” but a viable and even desirable way to run a business. And I can’t help but wonder how many companies will retain the remote business model going forward, even post-pandemic.
Letting go of the work-at-home myth
To me, as someone who’s run a work-at-home business in some way, shape or form for more than 35 years, the pros of running a business remotely have been obvious — and not just beneficial for the employee, but also for business ownership and management. From a financial point of view (and I am a very show-me-the-money kind of gal), the cost-savings alone are prudent, fiducial, and motivating.
However, I know for some businesses, the idea of “letting go” of employees and allowing them to essentially “police” themselves is a difficult one. Some managers and owners need to be personally and physically with their employees to feel assured that people are being productive.
To those managers and owners, I have to say, you really do need to let it go. Your big concern with remote employees — the lack of productivity — has been proven to be a myth. In fact, just the opposite is true. Employees who work from home are actually more productive.
If you don’t believe me, perhaps you would believe this Forbes article regarding a professor from Stanford University who did a study way back in 2013 on the subject. His conclusion was that at-home workers actually were so much more productive, they essentially added about an extra day’s worth of work every week when they worked at home, compared to when they work at their company’s offices.
Your big concern with remote employees — the lack of productivity — has been proven to be a myth. In fact, just the opposite is true.— Patricia LaCroix
The benefits of allowing employees to work from home
Here are some of the things that, thanks to the pandemic, businesses have most likely learned about having employees that work from home:
- People who work at home work more hours.
- People who work at home are more productive.
- People who work at home are less stressed.
- People who work at home are happier and more content.
Getting back to the financial benefits:
- When employees work from home, businesses have less overhead — supplies, equipment, utilities, space rental. There’s no need for a brick-and-mortar building, and all the expenses that go along just with that.
- Many workers work even though they are sick, when they work at home. Many workers avoid getting sick by working at home as well. This all translates to less paid sick leave.
- Many workers are willing to work evenings and weekends if they work at home.
- Bad weather (such as snowstorms) and emergencies are less prohibitive if employees work from home.
Working remotely is nothing new
Working remotely is not a new phenomenon. It’s not even a new trend. According to Global Workplace Analytics, since 2005, the number of people who worked at home had increased 140 percent by 2018. Upwork (a company that helps connect freelancers with projects) predicted that by 2028, 73 percent of all departments will have remote workers.
But those numbers are PRE-pandemic. So I personally believe that the percentage of people working from home could be much, much higher in just eight years. In fact, it might even be that if you can work from home, you will.
Don’t be surprised when it’s all said and done that work-at-home models start to be permanently implemented at many companies. The coronavirus will leave a very different business world in its aftermath, and I say, it’s about time. It’s also too bad that it took a major health pandemic to open up the eyes of business executives.