As the number of new coronavirus cases keeps falling day-to-day across the U.S. and more leaders talk about framing COVID-19 as more of an endemic rather than a pandemic, companies are facing more questions about how to move ahead with who have become remote workers. As this public health crisis enters its third year, many employees have found that working from home has turned out to be the best personal and professional decision for them, not something over which they suddenly had little choice during the early months of 2020.
At least, that’s according to a survey Pew Research Center recently concluded; the numbers Pew found offer insight to managers and human resources professionals alike.
Pew’s researchers found that employees’ attitudes about working from home have changed remarkably since those dark days of 2020. For those who were in a position to work remotely, 57 percent said they were concerned about being exposed to the coronavirus two years ago. That ratio has since fallen to 42 percent, said Pew.
Now that working from home has become part of their weekly routine, 76 percent of employees who have office space waiting for them say they prefer to stay at their current home office – a notable increase from 60 percent in early 2020.
Further, 60 percent of employees who have jobs that can be performed at the home office indicated they’d like to continue to do so once the COVID-19 crisis ends. And for those who are working from home most or all of the time, 78 percent said they’d rather continue to do so; that’s up from 64 percent two years ago.
In fairness, working from home does have its share of drawbacks – for example, 60 percent of remote employees say they currently feel less connected to their colleagues.
But while they may feel less of a connection with their office mates, many more remote employees say they can complete their work faster at a rate of 44 percent, versus 10 percent who believe the opposite is true.
For those employees who spent much of the past two years working from home and are eager to return to the office, 61 percent of them said they feel more productive being back in the physical workplace. That number far outpaces other reasons, such as not having enough room to do so at home or concerns over whether they could have opportunities for promotions.
If productivity is top of mind to managers, then an all-of-the-above approach toward how their employees work should be the path forward, as in providing office space, a hybrid model, or the green light to continue working from home.
Data at the macro level shows that overall, if the work-from-home model is succeeding, there’s no need to tweak it. After all, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced earlier this month that worker productivity increased 6.6 percent during the fourth quarter of 2021.
For managers who still have the mindset that an office environment is the most efficient way to get work done, those aforementioned numbers from the DOL, along with constant reports about workers feeling burnout, together should give them a massive hint. With the “Great Resignation” affecting companies in all sectors, one result is that in many cases, employees have less colleagues with whom they can share work day after day, work after work. “Going back to the office won’t change the fact that we have too much work,” summed up Vox’s Rani Molla.
Image credit: Jason Strull via Unsplash
Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.
Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.