As The Great Resignation continues and corporations scramble to make changes and retain their top performers, I sit back, a bit bemused. Personally, I have been working remote in some manner for 20 years, cobbling a career out of freelance work and self-employment because it’s what my lifestyle required. I am completely fulfilled in my remote career, now society has caught up to what I knew could be sustained all along. It took a long time to get here. The challenges of working remotely before remote work was fully acceptable are a different story entirely. Watching the phenomenal changes to employment as we know it from this side of the Zoom Call has been fascinating.
Remote work is here to stay; however, it seems some companies are still resistant to fully allowing employees to work remotely. Employees are overwhelmingly in favor of remote work options, with 100% remote work favored over hybrid options. While The Great Resignation is in the news, companies who can pivot are poised to be most successful in this new employment environment. While employees may not find any of the recent events surprising, it might be the first time they’ve had the power, on an individual level, to carve out an employment situation to suit their needs.
A study by Blind, in which employees of top companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and JP Morgan Chase were interviewed, 64% reported they would prefer to work from home over receiving a $30,000 raise. Those numbers are significant and indicate the direction workers in the U.S. are pushing the work environment – straight back to their home office.
Employees prefer to work from home by 71%. A further 76% of Americans want to be remote permanently. Employers who have tried to force their staff to return to office too soon, without input or collaboration, have been shedding qualified staff for months. Adapting to the hybrid schedule may be do-able in the long term, but employees don’t appear to be willing to give up the full remote option just yet.
Requiring employees to live within a certain distance of the office or to go to the office a certain number of days per week is just not appealing to the general workforce. It forces a decision between family priorities and career goals. Increasingly, employees want the flexibility to work and live in different geographic locations, for reasons of cost of living, tax burdens, school districts, and protracted commutes that cost money in time, gasoline, and vehicle wear.
While most companies say they are willing to embrace fully remote options, they are not reducing their overhead costs and are not always investing in their employees’ home offices. A good percentage of employers are still uncertain whether people are as productive when they work at home. And because their corporate handbook and their corporate playbook are giving conflicting messages, employees may dig their feet in even further.
Facebook says that at least half of their employees will work from home by 2030.
Companies that want to truly partner with their employees to craft a new normal for office work can demonstrate their commitment by creating a long-term plan. Corporations who commit to employees by envisioning new technologies that will create remote collaboration excellence are likely winners of top talent. “Hoteling” office suites so that remote employees can come into the office for rare in-person meetings and reducing office overhead costs are ways to demonstrate that commitment.
Interestingly, companies are not reducing their overhead. They are pushing for hybrid work models. The emerging norm is three days per week in office and two at home, with employees favoring a weekend bookend in this scenario. Apple CEO Tim Cook faced backlash from employees who did not want to return on this schedule. Like many companies, Apple will have to work with employees to realign what the post-Covid work world looks like.
How can companies trust that employees are doing the work? The answers are already in the books. Considering productivity numbers support organic revenue growth and have throughout the 2.5 years of the pandemic, it might be time to let go.
My 20-year path of remote work is offering me opportunities that were limited before, because it took a pandemic for executives to think outside of the cubicle. I finally have a path to leadership, promotion, and adding increased value to my company. This is exciting because my company is also adding value to my life. Every day, my team stretches boundaries, finding new and innovative ways to serve our clients. And the flexibility of this path allows me to continue to caretake my vulnerable family members – as I have for 20 years. It has given them additional freedoms, as well, because they are supported. My fur family can continue to be ever vigilant, keeping us secure from the growing squirrel army in our backyard. Or just napping at my feet.