At least for a few more years according to numerous entities reporting on the subject.
Flexjobs reports the US Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics data analysis showed 4.7 million people, about 3.4% of the US workforce, were already working remotely before Covid 19 hit.
Global Workplace Analytics reports remote work in the U.S has risen by 173% between 2005 and 2018. Upwork conducted a survey of 1,500 hiring managers. They predicted 36.2 million workers or 22% of Americans will be working remotely by the year 2025, an 87% increase from pre-Covid 19 levels.
Are workers more productive when they work from home? Again, there are surveys out there answering this question.
Mercer, an HR and workplace benefits consulting firm surveyed 800 employers. 94% stated work productivity was the same or higher since employees started working from home! A Stanford study found a 22% increase in productivity when employees were allowed to work from home. An Upwork study shows 22.5% of survey managers report a decrease in productivity and 32.2% of hiring managers reported an increase in productivity. Employees surveyed say they are more productive.
It turns out, employees are generally happier working from home. There are benefits to both the employee and employer.
Employees cite the following benefits:
- No commute
- Less or no office small talk
- Fewer distractions
- More time for family and exercise
- A higher quality of life and better overall work-life balance
- Less stress
Global Workplace Analytics estimates employers can save over $11,000 per year, per employee due to the lower cost of office space, increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, and less turnover.
They also estimate employees can save approximately $2,500 and $4,000 a year because of the lower cost of food, gas, parking and car maintenance.
Owl labs reports U.S. companies that allow remote working have a 25% lower employee turnover rate.
Of course, there are some drawbacks.
It can be lonely for some people. Zoom meetings are not conducive to real communication and brainstorming. A friend of mine told me her husband had a wine and cheese party via Zoom recently. It doesn’t sound like much fun. Most of us are social creatures and need interaction with other human beings, at least some of the time.
For some, there are distractions; things you’d rather do than work.
OpenVPN reports 54% of IT professionals think that remote workers are a greater security risk. It becomes very challenging to have control over the organization’s security infrastructure.
While the conclusion of all of the surveys show an increase in remote work and a continual trend in that direction, some companies are not able to provide that kind of work. The large number of companies that can, must find a balance and many use a hybrid model where employees work from home part of the time and work in the office the remaining time.
Does this have an impact on economic developers?
Workforce and talent still matter, whether they work from home or not. Quality of life in a community still matters. So does infrastructure, maybe even more with employees setting up home offices. Education and healthcare will always be vitally important. Economic developers can continue to work to help create a community that provides the best environment for both the company and the employee, whether they work from home or the office.