Before the COVID-19 pandemic began, some companies allowed employees to work remotely on occasion, and the federal government introduced telework in 2001. However, remote work has not been the norm in the private sector until recently, except for certain types of jobs that require a mobile office and frequent travel.
The pandemic changed the labor market, forcing many employers to move their workers home for more than a year. This shift demonstrated that some industries could operate efficiently this way, as employees became more adept at managing communications via video and chat platforms. And a number of employees discovered they preferred working from home.
More remote work also led to cost savings for businesses that were able to downsize their office operations and move work to cloud servers. And it has provided flexibility for employees, allowing them to handle personal matters during their breaks and tend to the needs of their families. From the employee perspective, remote work has become a very attractive option.
For these reasons, and so that employers can continue to attract and retain good talent, it’s very important to change with the times and allow remote work.
Recruiting and retention
Good, dedicated workers will perform well whether they are always in the office, working remotely on occasion, or teleworking from another state. The success of remote work depends on the industry and type of organization, but this format has definitely grown more popular among employees.
Some employers that insist on an in-office culture post-Covid are seeing attrition as they lose good employees to other companies that offer flex work options. Owl Labs has been tracking remote work trends in the U.S. for several years and notes that professionals are even willing to take a pay cut to work from home. The same study uncovered that remote work can reduce stress, enhance work-life balance, and save on commuting costs as well, from the perspective of some employees.
Companies that ignore these perceived and actual benefits of remote work and don’t instill more flexibility in work policies risk losing more employees and may struggle to recruit new ones.
Equity and inclusion
The societal move toward more remote work has demonstrated other benefits. Many employees with families appreciate the opportunity to adjust their hours and spend more time with their children.
Working from home while children are doing online schooling can be stressful, but in more normal times, a flexible arrangement may enable a parent to attend a soccer game, do an early school pickup, or be home to make breakfast. And it can mean more equal opportunities for employees with children, allowing them to perform on par with their colleagues.
Telework is also useful for individuals with immunity issues, disabilities, or other health concerns that make it difficult to work from the office every day. It provides more options for them to attend doctor’s appointments and work in the comfort of their home. Allowing some remote work communicates a desire to include and accommodate employees of all needs.
In fact, everyone benefits from a healthy work-life balance, regardless of their health status. Many companies have embraced wellness initiatives, educating their workforce on healthy habits and encouraging exercise, stress reduction, and ergonomic desk setups.
This has extended to remote work, where people say their stress levels decreased while they worked in the peaceful environment of their home offices. Being able to take a break for a quick yoga session, a snuggle with the cat, or lunch with a spouse can help promote an overall feeling of balance.
Employees who feel appreciated and valued by their supervisors perform better at work. While some people prefer to be in the office five days a week and say they work better that way, it’s important to acknowledge other workers who perform better in a hybrid situation or fully remote due to family obligations.
Recognizing these variations in work styles among employees is another example of workplace inclusion. More public companies are adopting social and corporate governance policies to satisfy stakeholders and increase their appeal on the stock market. Policies that foster positive morale, increase retention, and contribute to overall employee satisfaction are hallmarks of progressive companies today.
Companies that ignore the growing trend of remote work risk alienating employees and losing good people. Workplace standards that clearly communicate expectations yet incorporate flexibility will surely impact long-term growth in a positive way.
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