How important is working from home to you? The COVID-19 pandemic thrust a great remote work experiment on the world, and for the most part that experiment has shown that white-collar workers are as or more productive working from home compared to being in an office setting.
Coming out of the pandemic, companies are taking one of three approaches: Some are allowing remote work full-time, some are operating on a hybrid system, and others have insisted on a return to the office. Workers are split on what their preferences are, but a survey by UK recruitment firm Reed of 2,002 people found that 35% would take a pay cut if it meant they could work from home full-time. Slightly more, 37%, said they wouldn’t trade pay for the flexibility of remote work. Another 19% said remote work is simply not for them.
Whether those who go back to the office full-time should be rewarded, and by extension those working from home punished, is surely to be a point of contention in a post-COVID work environment. A quarter of respondents said workers in the office full-time should make more money, and 23% said those people should be first in line for future promotions.
“The key thing is to ensure employees have a certain level of choice and autonomy over how, when and where they spend their working day — keeping in mind the fact that what works for one group of people won’t necessarily work for another,” Reed managing director Simon Wingate said.
“In a competitive labor market, businesses must think creatively and listen carefully to their staff to provide a tailored approach that works on both an individual and collective level. This will help to improve their chances of attracting and retaining the best talent.”
While the pandemic may have upended everything we thought we knew about work and productivity, the tension between labor and management remains, just in a different form. For some, the freedom of working from home might trump other considerations.