2020 saw a sharp rise in the number of people working from home. In the early months of 2020, around 3.4% of the American population worked from home. By 2021, experts estimate that nearly a quarter of the American workforce will continue to work from home. This trend exists not only because of coronavirus concerns. But because of the benefits that remote work offers to workers and employers alike.
Surveys have shown that the majority of the American workforce does not want things to return to business as usual. As offices start to open up again as the pandemic comes to a close. How many American workers plan to return full-time to the office varies based on the survey. Additionally, how long workers have been at home and the type of work the worker performs. However, one thing remains clear: a large percentage of workers want some type of remote work option.
That does not necessarily mean, of course, that workers will continue to work from home on a full-time basis. Many employers are looking into hybrid models or other options. That will allow their employees some freedom and flexibility while still bringing them into the office for vital operations.
The office-centric hybrid model allows employees to work from home on a flexible schedule. But asks that employees spend the majority of their workdays in the office. Employees could work from home while sick or while dealing with personal responsibilities, including childcare. But should prioritize being in the office.
In the home-centric hybrid model, employees primarily work from home most days of the week. But they may have a specific day each week, or each couple of weeks when they must come into the office for increased collaboration.
In the work from home model, employees work primarily from home and only come into the office on special occasions. To take part in specific meetings or to complete tasks that can only be completed in an office environment.
Each model offers both advantages and disadvantages. Many companies will make the decision of what model they want to use based on the specific work tasks completed by their employees. And the amount of in-person collaboration needed to complete those tasks.
For years, employees have looked toward the benefits of remote work. In 2019, before the pandemic, around 67% of employees said they would leave a job that did not offer them adequate flexibility.
In light of the pandemic shift to remote work, which has proven that many businesses can successfully shift to a work-from-home or hybrid model without interfering with productivity. An increased number of people are looking for positions that will allow them flexible work options. Working from home allows a greater degree of work/life balance for many employees. Especially those who may have children at home or those who must worry about disability or health concerns. Prior to 2020, many employees were willing to accept that remote work wasn't possible for every organization.
Now, employees have seen how effectively companies can make that transition to remote work. And they're looking for employers that will allow them that flexibility. Luckily, employers are also seeing the benefits of remote work. As many as 74% of employers plan to permanently shift some of their employees to remote work even after the COVID-19 crisis ends.
One of the key metrics that has encouraged many employers is the productivity metric. An average of 90% of employers notes that shifting to remote work has not caused a negative impact on productivity within the workplace. In fact, many employers have found that remote employees are actually more productive than ever. Remote employees have fewer distractions and often feel a greater push to accomplish their daily responsibilities in order to keep their remote work privileges. Furthermore, remote employees are often in the more comfortable environment provided by their homes. Which may help them improve overall productivity.
In order to make remote work effective, there are several steps companies must implement to keep things running as efficiently as possible. First and foremost, employers must take note of the skills that can most effectively be utilized in a remote environment. Increasingly, several human skills will become highly important in a post-pandemic world. As the workforce settles in and makes the new shift to remote productivity.
For employees, self-motivation, including a focus on personal growth, will become increasingly important. Employers may have increasingly less direct contact with their employees. With most contact taking place via computer or over the phone, many employers will not have the chance to get to know their employees on a personal level. That means employees need to focus heavily on their own personal growth. Speaking up about the skills they want to learn, connecting directly with mentors on their own, and pursuing training opportunities, whether personal or employer-sponsored.
Managing employees will become increasingly complex when employees work on a hybrid model. Many employers will need to focus on effective management skills in order to help motivate and encourage those employees. Creating a company culture virtually offers its own set of unique challenges. Especially during periods when employees are disengaged or struggling with outside factors. Meanwhile, employees do not want to be micro-managed or feel as though they are locked to their computer screens all day. This means that effective management teams must find other ways to incentivize performance. Evaluating productivity and performance may shift to a completion-based model, rather than tracking what employees are doing with all their time. Managers who have or develop these skills will become increasingly valuable.
2020 has created permanent changes in the way many people view remote work. And it's critical that your business take the steps needed to keep up.