Many of us in white-collar jobs already work remotely quite often. One of the many lessons businesses are going to take out of the Covid-19/coronavirus event is the value of remote work. It will be impossible to accurately measure productivity when comparing pre-pandemic office workers to their output during social isolation, as the rest of the economy is also affected.
But there are things that can be measured. The decrease in emissions and noise pollution, along with positive trends in mental health that come with fewer cars being on the roads are marked. Obviously some jobs can’t be done remotely, and the traffic won’t stay this light forever, but the trend was already growing by leaps and bounds. The Covid-19 event will hasten it.
Nearly 5 million Americans already work remotely more than half the time, and the benefits of working remotely for employees and employers are striking. Owl Labs surveys found that companies allowing remote work have a turnover rate of 25% less than those that don’t, and FlexJobs found that 76% of workers would be more willing to stay with their current employer if remote work were an option.
Though working from home requires some discipline and a steady routine, the increased work-life balance that comes with flexibility, coupled with the reduction in stress, help to increase productivity for remote employees. Most millennials would even trade other benefits for a more flexible working space.
While there are employer liability issues that need to be sorted out, it seems remote work is a net benefit for workers and companies when possible. There needs to be respect and clear communication on both sides for a working relationship to remain positive and productive. And there will certainly be instances where remote workers have to come into the office periodically. But from a work standpoint, a sharp increase in going remote will certainly be a legacy of Covid-19.