Whether the corporate world and work force were ready or not, the COVID-19 pandemic forced many paradigm shifts – but none more prevalent than the sudden necessity to work from home. Advances in technology and digital tools made the global “WFH” experiment possible and proved to the world that not only can business be conducted from our homes, but also that this model can yield significant success and results. Many feared the WFH mandate would be a tremendous handicap, resulting in inefficiencies, failures and reduced profitability. However, research shows that there are many advantages that outweigh the disadvantages.
For example, according to research from Ladders, working from home showed increases in employee happiness by 20% or more. Obvious reasons include increased flexibility, the lack of a daily commute, and the focus on work over office dynamics. The Ladders study also showed that corporate profits were higher than pre-pandemic times. In addition, and most importantly, working from home showed increases in productivity by 13%.
As a result of these factors, research shows that as many as 33% of all new professional jobs are being hired remotely, and many expect that trend to increase. While some companies are asking employees to come back to work, office occupancy continues to be diminished, which has drastically affected the commercial real estate market. Many companies continue to opt for at least a partially WFH schedule of 2
or 3 days remote and the rest of the work week in office.
All that being said, there are some real draw-backs to a fully remote WFH environment. First, training programs and new-hire onboarding suffers if employees are not able to experience in-person, “live guidance. Another drawback has been the effect on Summer Internships. Glassdoor saw a 52% decrease in internship openings during the pandemic. Research comparing April 2019 to April 2020 showed that internship hiring had fallen by 39%, clearly due to the pandemic and the need to work exclusively from home. Experts also agree that while virtual engagement can be effective, there is no
substitute for live interactions and the impact it has on interpersonal relationships.
According to the Medical Science Liaison Society’s Annual Survey in 2021, 43% of KOLs said they would prefer “in person” meetings once the COVID19 pandemic is over, versus the 19% which would still prefer virtual meetings.
As the world moves further and further away from the pandemic, one can only guess what employers will decide to do with their employee work environments. Since there are clearly pros and cons to the work from home concept, we may wind up seeing a blended “hybrid” scenario for the foreseeable future. That way, employees and employers will get the “best of both worlds” in a sense, or at least have the flexibility to opt for which might suit their niche and circumstances best.