For years, some employees could only dream about having the ability to work from home, forgoing the commute, working in their pajamas, and spending more time with family. While it wasn’t the way many had envisioned this dream coming true, the coronavirus has, at least temporarily, made remote work a reality for millions of Americans.
Now, as the country begins to slowly reopen, the question remains: should employees just keep working from home?
Working from Home Statistics during the Coronavirus
The most current remote work statistics from the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) show that there was an unsurprising surge in remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the survey, which involved 550 U.S. employers in mid-March:
- 67% were taking steps to allow employees to work from home
- 36% were actively encouraging employees to work from home
- 42% were encouraging employees to work from home on a case-by-case basis
It’s safe to assume that, at the height of the pandemic in April, these numbers were even greater—and it’s not just office workers. “[The coronavirus] has changed the nature of how many do business,” says Erik Day, Senior Vice President of Small Business at Dell Technologies. “Organizations have been forced to evaluate their remote workforce and IT offerings in new ways at an unprecedented rate.”
To his point, healthcare practitioners turned to telemedicine, teachers conducted classes virtually, therapists spoke with patients via chat, financial centers became call centers, and grocery stores, bars, and restaurants shifted from in-person experiences to home delivery.
Ultimately, as the country reopens, it will be up to each individual organization to determine if this unprecedented work from home “experiment” was successful, and whether they want to adopt a full-time work from home model, a flexible work from home model, or go back to how things were pre-pandemic.
Benefits of Working from Home
Now that nearly all organizations that have the ability to work from home have had a trial run, what’s next? Is working from home (WFH) the future for these businesses?
ZenBusiness recently surveyed 1,035 remote workers about their WFH experiences. Nearly 50% of respondents stated that they felt more productive when working away from the office. That’s not all; 60% felt their mental health improved and more than 40% claimed to be exercising more.
Of course, remote work also benefits businesses by saving them money. A Global Workplace Analytics report reveals that a typical employer can save about $11,000 a year per half-time telecommuter, with primary savings coming from “increased productivity, lower real estate costs, reduced absenteeism and turnover, and better disaster preparedness.” For a company with 50 employees, that’s more than half a million dollars each year!
And then there are the environmental benefits. When employees telecommute, greenhouse gas emissions, fuel and energy usage, and office waste are all reduced.
Challenges of Working from Home
Seeing all the benefits of working from home above, it’s tempting to say, “let’s do it!” and institute a full-time WFH policy. However, it’s only fair to look at some of the challenges that come with working remotely.
According to the 2019 State of Remote Report, which was released prior to the COVID-19 crisis, employees working from home struggled with each of the following:
- 22% – Unplugging after work
- 19% – Loneliness
- 17% – Collaboration
- 10% – Distractions at home
- 8% – Staying motivated
- 7% – Taking vacation time
- 4% – Other
- 2% – Finding reliable WiFi
Of course, these are just employee concerns; employers need to consider employees abusing work from home policies and other matters. We cover some more working from home pros and cons in more depth in our blog, Why You Should Consider a Work from Home Survey.
Is Working from Home Permanently Right for Your Company?
Whether the move to working from home has proven to be a success or a failure during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s left companies across all industries with questions about the viability of full-time remote work and how to create effective work from home policies.
One way to get some answers is through surveys. Now that you have a better understanding of some of the pros and cons of remote work, you can craft questions about your WFH “experiment” and create employee surveys to collect their opinions on the success of it, and their thoughts on instituting a permanent or flexible WFH policy. You could even collect some “working from home tips” from top-performing employees to share with the rest of your staff to improve productivity.
To get started, SurveyLegend makes it easy. Our surveys are pre-designed—making them easy to create—and they’re both responsive and secure. Check out some of our Employee/Company templates here, and then get started creating your work from home surveys with SurveyLegend for free!