As fun as it is to log into Microsoft Teams in the comfort of your bed as your calculus teacher lectures on a lesson that you may or may not have watched the night before, working online has been a big adjustment for many people around the world in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the 10 years before COVID-19, 83 percent of US companies had become more flexible in their workplace policies. Now, with COVID-19 forcing Americans to stay home in order to maintain social distancing, employers have had to further adjust and find ways for their employees to work online from home.
Although it took time to adjust, many workers are getting more comfortable with working from home and some even enjoy it more than being at the office.
In response to COVID-19, many companies such as Google, Microsoft and Zoom have made it possible for people all around the world to work from home and still be able to have conferences and meetings through video chat. Companies such as these are trying their best to make the adjustment to remote working as smooth as possible. For example, Slack is offering free resources, such as consulting to businesses that are using remote work for the first time, to people working at home all around the world.
The internet has made it easier than ever to work from home, and for some, the home environment is much more productive for them because of the benefits of being able to be comfortable while working.
With many businesses going online, telecommuting is revealing many benefits to remote work. Businesses could get rid of the entire need for office space if their employees were able to just permanently work from home. Additionally, if location isn’t part of the equation, companies would be able to hire from anywhere and be much more selective on the talent they are hiring.
In a study by Prithwiraj Choudhury, associate professor in the Technology and Operations Management Unit at Harvard Business School, and colleagues, researchers found that working remotely has various benefits to both employers and employees. The study found that employee productivity increased 4.4 percent, which could add an estimated value of $1.3 billion to the US economy annually. The researchers also found that remote work reduced hiring costs, office costs, living costs and emissions released into the environment from work commute.
Apart from the benefits to productivity and cost effectiveness of remote work, employees are also given the flexibility and freedom that they have been craving for years. Remote work would allow for employees to pick where they live, whereas when they have to physically go to an office they have to live near their work. This could potentially save employees lots of money, because, for example, if their company is in New York, a lot of their paycheck is going to go into housing, because the cost of living in New York is much higher than in other US cities. Additionally, employees can take more breaks or work at hours that work for them, as they can structure their schedule around preferences such as if they are a morning or night person.
As businesses are forced to adapt to a world of social distancing, many are likely to get comfortable with online meetings and remote work. Although not all of the workforce can be online and not all employees like working from home, many businesses may permanently allow for employees to have the option to work remotely, even after society goes back to a pre COVID-19 way of life.
As isolated as people feel right now being stuck at home because of COVID-19, society may be more connected than ever as, globally, people are making use of the resources available to them online at an unprecedented level. With the workforce going online, it doesn’t matter where you live, all that matters is the work you do.