Over the last six months, I have spoken to over 100 people who, thanks to the pandemic, were forced to work from home. Fifteen of them were C-level executives. From those discussions, I began to see a common thread emerge. For almost all of those I spoke with, the transition to working from home was quite a shock. Indeed, at first, they were not sure they could be productive and questioned whether working from home would work for them.
But by the third month, most realized that thanks to new video conferencing systems like Zoom, WebEx, MS Teams, and others, along with email and messaging apps, working from home allowed them to continue to be productive. In some cases, they were more productive than they were in their former office settings.
Many that I spoke with started to like working from home and began expanding their home offices or designated workspaces to prepare to work from home as long as they could. Some who lived in smaller condos started buying homes in the suburbs, which has driven the demand for single-family homes very high.
Flexjobs recently surveyed more than 2100 who worked remotely during the pandemic and found out the majority of employees want to work remotely well beyond the end of the pandemic.
According to Flexjobs findings “an astonishing 65 percent of pandemic remote workers said they wanted to keep working from home and 58 percent even said they would look for a new job if they would have to return to the office. Only 2 percent said they would prefer to return, while 11 percent said that remote work was not essential for them. At a third of respondents naming it as their preferred mode of working, the hybrid model that combines office and remote work were also popular.
Respondents were pretty much in agreement about the biggest perks of working from home: Having no commute and saving money were named by 84 percent and 75 percent of remote workers, respectively. Reasons against remote work were more diverse and included overworking/the ability to unplug (35 percent of respondents), distractions at home and tech problems (28 percent each) as well as finding reliable WiFi (26 percent) and video meeting fatigue (24 percent).”
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The chart below from Statista illustrates the Flexjobs’ data well:
One of the stats from the Flexjob survey that I find significant is that 58% said they would look for a new job instead of going back to the office. While the report did show that reasons against working remotely existed, like the ability to unplug and distractions at home, the majority found the benefits outweigh these downsides.
That level of interest in finding a new job instead of going back to a full-time office setting is important to watch. If this stat is correct, many companies who want all workers to return to the office may have to change their plans once the pandemic is over.
In recent talks with some C-level execs, most seem to see some form of a hybrid approach becoming the norm. To keep workers they are willing to develop more flexible work schedules where employees can work at home some of the time and come to the office on an as-needed basis. That as-need basis seems to focus on times when collaborating with co-workers is best done in person than over a Zoom call.
Apple CEO Tim Cook stated in Apple’s earnings call this week, “the hybrid approach to work that likely will exist when the pandemic is over will include working from home and will remain very critical.”
One flipside of people working from home has been the savings to companies on promotion, travel, entertainment.
In a Bloomberg post, after digesting Alphabet’s earnings this week, they found that the company has saved over $1 billion in 2020 from promotional, travel and entertainment expenses alone.
“During the first quarter, Google parent Alphabet Inc. saved $268 million in expenses from company promotions, travel, and entertainment, compared to the same period a year earlier, “primarily as a result of COVID-19,” according to a company filing.
On an annualized basis, that would be more than $1 billion. Indeed, Alphabet said in its annual report earlier this year that advertising and promotional expenses dropped by $1.4 billion in 2020 as the company reduced spending, paused or rescheduled campaigns, and changed some events to digital-only formats due to the pandemic. Travel and entertainment expenses fell by $371 million.’
While I don’t have numbers on how much they saved by doing their yearly Google Developer conference virtually, I know that this event costs them multi-millions of dollars to produce each year.
All of the major companies who hold in-person developer or customer conferences in 2020 saved hundreds of millions of dollars from not holding in-person shows as they were able to produce them virtually for 1/5 the cost on average.
Working from home has major benefits for companies as well as their employees and due to the pandemic. Many surveys such as the one from Flexjobs suggest this will be the new normal for millions of workers around the world well into the future.