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How Remote Work Is Changing the Workforce: Opportunities for Businesses, Employees, & Job Seekers
In the spring of 2020, Mark Zuckerberg said he expects half of Facebook’s workforce to shift to remote work over the next decade. That same month, Jack Dorsey sent an email to Twitter employees announcing that they will be able to continue working from home as long as they see fit. And, in July of 2020, Google announced that employees will continue to work from home until at least the summer of 2021.
The transition to remote work during the pandemic was a requirement to maintain operations for many office-based companies. But, research indicates that the majority of companies desire to continue some form of remote work post-pandemic. In fact, a Gartner study found 80% of company leaders plan to allow employees to work remotely at least part-time following the pandemic, and 47% will allow employees to work from home full-time. Truly indicating a striking move towards a ‘work where you live’ and ‘work in your preferred environment’ approach to business.
Meanwhile, employees and job seekers are also looking to make a long-term switch to remote work. According to a FlexJobs survey, 65% of respondents prefer to become fully remote employees post-pandemic, while 31% desire some form of hybrid work arrangement (a weekly mix of days in the office and at home).
If the remote work trends continue in the post-pandemic era, what opportunities and benefits exist for businesses, employees & job seekers?
Remote Work Opportunities & Benefits
For Businesses and Organizations
Attracting, Engaging & Retaining Top Talent
Companies planning to shift to some form of remote work permanently may have an advantage over their competitors when it comes to attracting and hiring the best talent. The FlexJobs survey found that 27% of workers indicate the ability to work from home is so important to them that they are willing to take up to a 20% reduction in pay to work remotely. And, 81% anticipated increased employer loyalty associated with flexible work options.
When businesses are willing to employ fully remote workers, their pool of talent increases exponentially. Hiring remotely allows employers to recruit talent from anywhere – providing them an advantage over organizations that require employees to reside in a particular location or time zone.
According to an Airtasker survey, “on average, remote employees worked 1.4 more days every month, or 16.8 more days every year, than those who worked in an office.” This statistic is backed by the January 2021 PwC US Remote Work Survey that states the following:
Compared with the June survey, more employee respondents say they’re more productive now than they were before the pandemic (34% vs. 28%). And more executives agree: over half (52%) say average employee productivity has improved vs. 44% who said the same in June. Also, employees who report higher productivity are much more likely to say their companies have been better at performing various activities, including collaborating on new projects and serving customers.
Business Cost Savings
Remote-first organizations may become less tethered to expensive workspaces. Shifting to a remote work model can produce significant office rental savings in the long-run. And office rent is only one piece of cost savings: when reducing office space, businesses save on printer paper, utilities such as electricity and water, and even wi-fi. For even more facts regarding the cost & benefits of having an agile work strategy, check out this blog article.
Improved Workforce Inclusivity
Many organizations are seeking ways to improve diversity & inclusion. Having a diverse & inclusive workforce provides significant benefits including:
- More creativity and problem solving
- Increased productivity and profitability
- Better decision making
- Improved employee engagement and retention
- And much more
Remote work enables companies to consider a wider talent pool of people from different geographic, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Remote work enables employers to access talent who wouldn’t have historically considered the organization based on location, and widening access to include candidates who may not have previously been considered for traditional “onsite” positions.
For Job Seekers and Employees
Improved Access & Inclusivity
Remote work isn’t just good for business – it’s also beneficial for job seekers and employees. Remote opportunities offer candidates who may have historically experienced difficulty finding an onsite role that met their personal needs (e.g.those who require a flexible schedule, caregivers, those with disabilities) access to achieve their career goals. Remote work curtails concerns regarding moving away from family or supportive communities and addresses frequent commuting concerns.
In an article written by Paul Estes in Fast Company, he points out that, “Organizations that don’t actively support remote work are unknowingly falling victim to location bias.” When organizations decide to hire employees who can work from home in the communities where they feel the most comfortable and supported, those companies choose to support diversity, community, and family.
Lower Commute Stress & Better Work-Life Balance
According to the United States Census Bureau, the average one-way commute time in the United States is 26 minutes. That’s 52 minutes per day, and 4 hours, 20 minutes per week. Instead of spending the time on a commute, employees who work remotely can better utilize their time with their families, getting additional sleep, working out, and more!
Flexible work options allow employees to work on their terms, when and where they want, eliminating the commute time. More time makes for happier employees.
Personal Cost Savings
Global Workplace Analytics estimates employees who work remotely part-time can save between $2,000 to $6,500 a year. Vehicle maintenance, gas, parking fees, and other forms of transportation expenses – not to mention professional wardrobe, purchased lunches, and more can be reduced from personal spending.
Additionally, remote work options allow employees to live in places where the cost of living is lower rather than being forced to live in high-cost urban locations close to company offices. Global Workplace Analytics estimates that employees can save over $7,000/year for every $100,000 reduction in home value.
The pandemic may have been the sudden catalyst for office-based companies to shift to remote work policies. However, we’ve learned that there are both qualitative and quantitative benefits for businesses, employees, and job seekers to have remote work options in the post-pandemic era.
If agile work strategies can support your business, taking advantage of the workforce strategies offers all parties a better way forward.
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