Working From Home: Safety Measure Or Business Strategy
The list of effects of the Coronavirus crisis is nearly endless, and one of the most-discussed side effects is the drastic change in working practices. While businesses like hospitality and food service have had to dramatically reduce working hours or even shut down entirely, a large section of the workforce has been able to shift to a work-from-home lifestyle. Gone are the days of commuting an hour or more to a high-rent office in the city, before returning home in the same traffic. In order to avoid transmitting COVID-19 throughout offices, white-collar workplaces across sectors have asked employees to work from home. Although these decisions were made with employee health in mind, some businesses have begun extending or making permanent their new work-from-home practices. It’s clear that working from home can help reduce transmission of disease, but what does it mean for business?
Every employer’s first worry about work-from-home is what will happen to productivity, but the numbers show that these concerns are unfounded. Supervisors and middle management professionals around the world spend a great deal of office time ensuring that employees are spending their time wisely and now having tried work-from-home, these same management people realize that productivity changes very little when out of an office. A survey from Global Workplace Analytics cites 77% of workers saying they maintain full productivity from home! Those in charge seem to agree with their employees, as that same survey says managers are “just as satisfied with work performance”.
Now knowing that work-from-home won’t ruin their business model, many of these employers are now examining the numerous upsides to the situation. Office real estate can be incredibly expensive, and makes up a large portion of a company’s overhead. Removing the need for an office, or even just downsizing to a smaller office can free up funds to increase salaries, provide work-from-home equipment, or to invest back into the business. Aside from office costs, full or partial work-from-home can save costs by increasing employee satisfaction. People are generally happier when they don’t have to sit in traffic and spend money on gas, meaning they’re more likely to stick around. This effect on employee retention can help save a considerable amount on hiring and training, and less stress can even reduce money spent on employer healthcare!
What started out as an attempt to safeguard employee health from COVID-19 may soon become a permanent change for many workers; businesses as big as Facebook, Twitter, and Nationwide Insurance have announced permanent work-from-home policies, and there may be more to come. Whether it’ll be just a few days a week or the entire work week, it seems to me that a lot of white-collar workers had better get used to working from home. Check out my personal site to see my blog on how to work from home while managing being a parent!