Working from home is a controversial topic in today’s working industry. It has become a model criticized for going against social norms set by older generations but also praised for being the obvious path our new digital society is taking.
Coming out of college, most students that don’t have traveling or entrepreneurial desires will be hired to work for a company. They will sit behind a desk and work on a screen. This applies to the private sector but also the public and administration services requiring many office tasks. I mentioned college students as an example, but it applies to many in the working industry going from associates in marketing and communication to regular customer service employees.
Remote jobs is the next evolution in a connected world. Emailing, conference calls or formatting, these are just a few examples of the majority of task heavily performed by employees every day doesn’t require physically coming into work to be done well.
3 reasons why companies are against it
What is really stopping managers from allowing employees to work outside of the office: Lack of trust? Social norms carried from past generations? Or simply fear of change?
The lack of trust. Working from home wouldn’t be the first-time employers’ trust is at stake. Today employers can spy on employee’s work advancement using softwares and technological tools. Administrators manage to observe your internet activity, screen time and others. See « Productivity Monitored from close ». From home or at the end of the hallway, no way to escape productivity monitoring.
Social norms carried by older generations. Over the past century, standards have been strict: wake up, go to work at a certain location then come back home at the end of the day. Other than being strict, these requirements were necessary as the employees’ presence was needed in order to fully contribute to the company. But in 2019, these requirements are vague for many sectors. Thanks to technological advances, many companies’ tasks could be done from home and the goals would be achieved just as well.
Then finally, the fear of change. In a sense, for many, working from home can feel odd. No need to get ready and follow a dress code, no need to drive or use other means of transportation and one of the biggest: no physical encounters. That last one is important. You may not like to see your boss every day but as a human, face to face interaction is a necessity. In addition, a team’s chemistry stays one of the main components of a successful business. How can collaborators maintain strong bonds if they don’t physically interact? And at the end of the day, will it even feel like a workday?
The (near) Future of remote jobs
Next year, 36% of the global workforce will comprise of Gen Z so let’s take a younger perspective to debate on the subject. The advantages of a home office are numerous; going from productivity to environmental benefits, a home office is a necessity in the working industry of tomorrow. With more digital skills than past generations, new workers are entering the working market with different needs and criteria when choosing a job. It is important to note that salary and career evolution stay of importance but the awareness of companies’ impact on the environment and the high adaptability in a changing world are new factors that companies have to take in the equation. These are just a few reasons why the younger generation will not end up behind desks as easily and consciously as older generations.
For some employers, employee’s productivity is altered when working outside of the office. However, many studies have proven otherwise. A two-year study by Stanford University with 5000 people, both working in and out of the office, has found that productivity isn’t affected by the location factor. Productivity at home is equal to productivity in a traditional setting. Another study from Figures from OWLLabs (2019) shows that someone who works from home at least once a month is « 24% more likely to report feeling happier and more productive at their jobs ».
The positive numbers towards remote jobs continue:
It can become a structural benefit for companies. Last year, $5 billion were generated in cost savings for American companies through remote jobs. It becomes a great asset and can save up to $10,000 per employee every year just in real estate according to stats from PGI News
The presence of remote jobs is certainly increasing in the working industry, (+140% since 2005 worldwide) but the reason why companies are still skeptic is under justified. Newer generations are helping to change the norms by crushing the pros and cons debate on this matter. More productivity, structural cost management and greater well-being of employees are inarguable facts. Sooner or later, this attractive model will rise to its potential, for the benefit of both parties.
Sources: cnbc.com/ inc.com / wbur.org / atlassian.com / thepowerofourdigitalworld.com