Is Working Remotely Here to Stay?

A young woman working from home.

As the world adapts to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, companies have had to rapidly shift to remote work to ensure the safety of their employees and customers. (Image: Anton Estrada via Dreamstime)

Remote working, which is also referred to as “working from home,” is a work arrangement where employees do not commute to a central place of work. 

It is estimated that approximately 4.7 million people were working remotely before the COVID-19 pandemic. But a global survey conducted by Gartner Inc. found that 88 percent of business organizations worldwide encouraged their employees to work from home as the virus spread. 

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In March 2021, City Matters reported: “The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which represents business leaders in the capital, commissioned a survey of 500 businesses which found that 52 percent planned to continue remote working in some form.” 

Twitter and Facebook have announced that their employees have permission to work from home permanently for the foreseeable future. 

Numerous pros to working remotely

There are numerous pros to working remotely that can improve both employees’ well-being and work. These include: 

  • Better work-life balance 
  • Happier at work 
  • Healthier lifestyle

Many people and their companies found they were more productive when working remotely. Of course, the absence of time spent commuting and traveling is a massive benefit, but many found that they were more focused when working without typical office distractions. 

The absence of time spent commuting and traveling is a massive benefit of working remotely.
The absence of time spent commuting and traveling is a massive benefit for remote workers. (Image: Disqdr via Dreamstime)

Approximately 6 out of 10 remote employers say their business has saved money by allowing employees to work remotely. Working remotely offers cost savings for businesses, including a reduction in spending on: 

  • Office rent 
  • Office utilities and maintenance 
  • Payroll, since it is estimated that 36 percent of workers would choose remote working over a pay raise

In September 2021, the BBC published What bosses really think about remote work. In the United States, 72 percent of managers currently supervising remote workers would prefer all their staff to be back in their offices, according to recent research for the Society for Human Resource Management. 

It seems that some managers experienced a loss of control over their staff compared to pre-pandemic times. Reversing remote working policies and promoting a back-to-the-office mentality may be based on regaining a familiar culture of control.  

Bosses championing a shift from remote working also highlight office-based employees’ social and creative possibilities, such as sharing a coffee break with a colleague. 

Attending a place of work each day adds structure and routine to people’s lives. Nevertheless, working remotely alone can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation. Continuous isolation and lack of engagement with others can eventually lead to frustration, burnout, and lowered efficiency. 

There are some obvious advantages and disadvantages to working remotely, and it would appear that the pros do outweigh the cons. Any noted disadvantages can be avoided by establishing the right remote working strategies, such as virtual team building activities and regular virtual training sessions. 

Woman attending a virtual conference using her desktop computer at home.
Virtual team building activities and other strategies can be used to overcome the disadvantages of remote working. (Image: Volodymyr Melnyk via Dreamstime)

Online job advertisements, including terms related to working remotely, have also increased faster, with remote working ads in May 2021 three times above their February 2020 average. 

In September 2021, Forbes published: “After almost 2 years of working remotely, it will be nearly impossible to demand people to return to the office.” People have developed personal habits and routines while working from home recently. There is no other choice in a structured workplace than the 9-5 grind. 

Working remotely, people get to choose the structure of their day, for the most part. So it’s hardly surprising that people are rebelling against being summoned back to the workplace.

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