The COVID-19 pandemic forced many businesses to re-evaluate their workplace policies. For some, working from home has become the new normal. But is this the way of the future?
There are pros and cons to working from home. On the plus side, employees can save on commuting costs and have more flexibility with their schedules. They can also create a better work-life balance for themselves. On the downside, working from home can be isolating and distracting. It can be difficult to stay focused when there are so many other things going on at home. And without face-to-face interaction with colleagues, it can be harder to build relationships and collaborate effectively. So the question is, do people like working from home?
What people have vs. What people want
We decided to take a look at the work from home situation. We polled our followers on LinkedIn about working from home. This was not a scientific poll, however we found the results very interesting.
73% of people who responded work from home at least once per week, with the majority working one or two days from home. 27% of respondents in our poll said they do not work from home. This could be for a variety of reasons – maybe they choose to work at the office, or maybe their employer doesn’t allow working from home.
We realized what people are allowed to work from home could be different than what they want, so we asked how many days per week people would prefer to work from home. 95% of respondents said they would prefer to have some work from home days, again with the majority being one to two days.
Do people miss working at the office? Perhaps not. In our poll, 31% said they do not miss the office, and if they do, it might only be for the social aspect of office work. 45% said they miss socializing with coworkers. 18% missed having a dedicated workspace. Only 5% said they missed in-person meetings.
Implications of working from home
So what does this mean? Is working from home the way of the future? Is hybrid work viable and sustainable? No matter the answer, employers and employees should consider certain factors before making any decisions about where or how they work.
Are people more productive at home? The answer to this depends on the person. The majority of our followers said they were equally or more productive working from home. Some people may prefer working from home, and some may find it hard to concentrate without the dedicated workspace an office provides.
Could there be unintended consequences of shifting to a more work from home society? Perhaps employers could view working from home as a benefit. Would that be a reason to pay employees less? It could also drive down the cost of labour. Certainly, hybrid work is different than complete remote work. However, remote work expands the employer’s access to labour, making it easier to find someone willing to do the job for less.
It's safe to say there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to working from home, and that’s okay. Every employer and employee has a different situation. It does seem the idea is here to stay. The practice of working from home has remained with us even as we return to normal after the pandemic. Exactly what workplace policies will look like in the future remains to be seen. Things will continue to change, and it will be interesting to see how the views of working from home evolve over time.