A Man Working from Home

Will companies allow employees to work from home after the pandemic?

*The Conference Board analysts in a report say the corporate world has yet to reach a consensus on whether the working from home trend will be permanent in years ahead

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

The outbreak of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic several workers worldwide have been compelled to resort to working from home (WFH) as part of measures at curing further spread of the damaging disease.

So, if you have been working from home during the last year and prefer it, a new report from the Conference Board says there is a good chance you will be able to continue doing so.

What became a necessity at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020 has worked out better than anyone expected, according to report.

However, Conference Board analysts say the corporate world has yet to reach a consensus on whether the WFH trend will be permanent.

Calling remote work “COVID-19’s biggest legacy,” the Conference Board report confirms that a sea change in thinking has taken place over the past year.

At the beginning of 2020, only about 8 percent of office workers were allowed to perform their jobs from home, they stated.

The thinking among executives at the time was simple: if workers are not doing their jobs in an office setting, they will be less productive.

As WFH became nearly universal, almost overnight, those fears failed to materialise. With the promise of widespread vaccinations in the coming weeks, months and years, companies are balancing their desire to reopen offices with the prospect of reduced spending on office space and the ability to recruit employees who prefer not to relocate.

Gad Levanon, Vice-President of Labour Markets at The Conference Board,  said: “Remote work worked in 2020, with workers and employers reporting increased productivity on recent surveys.

“But 2020 was also a year like no other, full of stressors likely to drive employees to work harder and longer.”

But how about maintaining productivity when working from home? The question is whether the level of productivity companies got from their homebound employees during the pandemic can be sustained, going forward.

The report says companies will likely consider that before making a decision on WFH’s future.

Dana Peterson, Chief Economist of The Conference Board, believes companies that continue WFH policies will benefit and could potentially transform economies in their respective locations.

Peterson said: “If WFH trends hold, millions of workers may relocate over the next decade in search of lower living expenses and higher quality of life.

“As employees disperse beyond commuter zones, companies may find it increasingly difficult to reverse a decision to embrace remote work.”

The Conference Board analysts, in a survey, consulted Human Resource (HR) executives at companies across the United States (US), and found that about one-third expected their companies to allow 40 percent of their employees to work remotely once the pandemic has ended.

Occupations that had already been trending towards remote work before the pandemic were among the least likely to return to the office, the organisation stated.

A permanent WFH structure holds many benefits for families. A two-car family may decide it can get by with a single vehicle, lowering finance and insurance costs.

Other savings may be accrued through reduced transportation costs and less spending on business attire and food away from home.

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