Is Remote Work Here To Stay?

by Kroger Health Staff

Last Updated: May 26, 2020

Recently, social network giant Twitter announced that all 5,100 employees from 35 offices would have the flexibility to continue working from home as long as they see fit. This announcement made by Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, shed some light on what a corporate environment might look like in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Across the country, companies are taking different approaches to reintegrate employees into the workplace, prioritizing their health and safety while working hard to continue operations and maintain profitability. But, with so much still unknown about the behaviors of the virus, and newly developed remote working skills for millions of people, is a true return to a ‘normal office environment’ realistic?
  1. Work from home stigmas are a thing of the past.
    Before COVID-19, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 29% of college graduates worked from home some of the time. Remote working previously held the stigma of yielding less productivity and lower quality work. However, with the quick onset of COVID-19, companies were forced to make immediate remote accommodations for their employees as stay-at-home orders were rapidly put in place. Tools were swiftly integrated for ease of communication and collaboration, with both Microsoft Teams and Slack reporting significant increases in daily active users over the last month. The Kroger Co., including Kroger Health, quickly adapted live meetings and conference calls to the Microsoft Teams platform in order to collaborate on ways to safeguard our retail, manufacturing, distribution, and other teams. The ability to whiteboard or share documents in a live setting is as important in virtual meeting rooms and Microsoft Teams met our needs. With proof of productivity for millions of people working from home, experts predict much more remote working incorporated into ‘normal’ office culture for the foreseeable future.
  2. There may be financial benefits for employers and employees.
    With the conditioning of work from home practices through the pandemic, employers are recognizing the financial benefits of more employees splitting their time between home and the office. In the immediate, offices need to be rearranged to maintain safety for employees, requiring a reorganization of seating plans to ensure adequate distancing between coworkers. These types of changes also incur a financial burden, one that some companies may not be capable of taking on during these trying times. However, reducing the need to accommodate people in an office environment physically eliminates the potential health risk. It decreases the need for corporate real estate, potentially lessening financial output for companies suffering economically through today’s environment. Employees may also benefit financially as commutes and the cost of transportation are eliminated.
  3. People may be happier working from home.
    A 2019 study conducted by Owl Labs showed that people who work remotely full-time are 22% happier than those who are primarily office-based The study identified remote workers had better work-life balance, increased productivity and better focus, less stress, and avoidance of a commute. Surprisingly, the same study also reported that those who work remotely typically worked longer hours than on-site workers, debunking the assumption that working from home yields less engagement from employees. The desire for work from home flexibility was sought after even before the onset of the pandemic, with studies showing 80% of employees wanting to work remotely at least occasionally, with over a third willing to take a pay cut for this option. Another study showed that work from home flexibility yielded greater employee satisfaction than health insurance, vacation and paid time off, and 401(k) plans.

The quick shift out of corporate environments shocked employees all over the world at the onset of the coronavirus. With the assistance of digital platforms and apps, millions have been able to stay connected, productive, and profitable while working less traditionally, from the comfort of their own homes. As the world attempts to reintegrate safely, remote working will likely be one of the elements within the ‘new normal’ that both companies and employees will be faced with and could very well be both a safe and satisfying option for the immediate future.

Disclaimer: The information in this story is accurate as of its publication. However, the situation surrounding COVID-19 is ever-evolving. We are working to keep our stories up-to-date as changes occur, but we also encourage everyone to check news and recommendations from the CDC, WHO, and their local authorities.