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3 Lessons Learned About Remote Work In 2020

One of the most impactful shifts of the pandemic was the widespread adoption of remote work. More people than ever started working from home, which taught us all a lot about what’s possible for the future. Business leaders, managers, and employees learned several important lessons from remote work, and as a result, new, more flexible work models are emerging.

Looking at the lessons learned, we can gain perspective on where work models are headed and what to expect for the future.

Lesson #1: Remote Work Does Work

Before the pandemic, only about six percent of Americans were primarily work-from-home workers. Naturally, a lot of companies weren’t sure if it could even work.

So, does working remotely work?

When you look at the number of people still working remotely today along with projections for the future, it’s clear that remote work is effective.

By the last quarter of 2021, about 45 percent were still working from home at least part-time (down from nearly 70 percent in 2020), and surveys are showing that a sizable chunk of the workforce will be remote permanently. A Gartner survey found that 74 percent of CFOs expect to transition at least five percent of their employees to remote work on a permanent basis. And, according to research conducted by Global Workplace Analytics, anywhere from 25 to 30 percent of the U.S. workforce will be remote even after the pandemic is history.

During the COVID crisis, we learned that remote models do indeed work for many businesses – 83 percent of employers say the shift to remote work was a success for their business.

And most workers prefer it. Of the 2,050 full-time workers surveyed by Owl Labs for the State of Remote Work 2021 study, 84 percent said working remotely post-pandemic would make them happy, and many would take a pay cut if it meant being able to work from home.

Lesson #2: Going Remote Offers Benefits Across the Board

Employees, managers, and business owners have uncovered some incredible benefits to remote work.

The cost-savings potential is huge

  • One report found that, if the roughly 48 million employees who have a remote-compatible job worked from home at least once per week, employers in the U.S. could save as much as $500 billion per year.
  • When you factor in not having to pay for commuting costs, eating out, and maintaining a work wardrobe, remote workers themselves can save about $4,000 a year.

Productivity actually increases

  • According to a survey conducted by Upwork on the future of work, hiring managers say that fewer non-essential meetings, less time commuting, and increased schedule flexibility have helped to boost time spent working.
  • Also, once organizations implement cloud technology and processes to facilitate remote work, the infrastructure is in place, and working remotely can feel seamless – 68 percent of hiring managers believed that remote work was much smoother several months after making the shift.
  • Workers themselves say they are, for the most part, getting more done. Ninety percent of respondents in the Owl Labs survey said they are more productive working from home.

Remote work can boost your workforce

  • Employers can hire from a wider pool of applicants, making top talent more accessible.
  • They also become more attractive to skilled employees – the reality is, few employees prefer an office-only workplace. According to a PwC survey, only eight percent don’t want to work remotely at all. Over half want to work from home at least three days a week.
  • And finally, remote employees tend to be happier than their in-office counterparts. They stay in their jobs for longer and, for customer-facing teams, they’re more likely to provide top-notch customer service.

Lesson #3: There’s Still a Place for the Traditional Office

Companies can operate effectively with remote teams, and there are plenty of benefits to having remote flexibility. However, we’ve also learned another lesson – 100% remote work isn’t the best option for every company.

  • There’s still value in expecting employees to come into the office. That’s something that both employers and employees agree upon. Employees appreciate the ability to collaborate with team members in person and to build relationships. Employers and managers see the office as a space to meet with clients, enable collaboration, and ensure productivity stays high.
  • Also, there are problems with the remote work lifestyle – some employees say they have trouble maintaining a work-life balance, and others feel burned out by excessive video meetings.

The bottom line is that a fully remote model isn’t a good fit for every company, job role, or individual. But the option to work from wherever is something that almost every worker wants.

Because of the Benefits and Lessons Learned, the Future of Work Will Be Hybrid

There’s no question that remote work is here to stay. Companies of all sizes and from all industries have learned how practical it can be. But, it’s not all positive. There are advantages to having some employees in the office, at least some of the time.

That’s why so many companies are shifting to a work-from-wherever model. If your company is considering a hybrid model, or if you are looking for ways to improve your hybrid workplace, Intermedia can help your company make hybrid work work better.

About Darcy Mekis