Is Remote Work Here to Stay? (The Past, Present, Future and Benefits)

Written by David Salters, Taylor Fox on March 23, 2022

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As employers everywhere continue to grapple with the tumultuous Great Resignation phenomenon, employers and workers are left wondering: “Is remote work here to stay?”

While some companies don’t have the option of offering remote work due to the nature of their products or services, many companies that could work remotely continue to be resistant to the idea, preferring instead to bring employees back into the office setting.

In the end, it comes down to what the employer wants. But for companies that don’t offer remote work options, it could be harder to attract and retain employees in today’s new environment.

Trying to hire talent during the Big Quit has shown many business leaders that it’s time to consider a remote or hybrid work model for the future, or risk losing out on the best candidates to fill vital roles in their organizations.

Remote Work Trends:  Pre-Pandemic Remote Work Statistics and Views

The idea of remote work isn’t new due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the widespread availability of the internet and laptops, smartphones and tablets, the idea of telecommuting has become increasingly attractive for those companies that have the option.

The 2010s in particular were filled with an increasing desire for workers to find the right work-life balance, spend less time commuting and save money on increasing gasoline prices.

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In 2011, Cisco released a report exploring the future of work among college-age students, finding that 37% of those polled already preferred the idea of flexibility and remote work over a higher salary.

As time continued, employers and employees became increasingly open to the possibilities of remote work. By 2017, Gallup reported that 43% of 15,000 employed Americans were already working remotely for some portion of their workweek.

By the time the coronavirus pandemic struck, many people had become more accustomed to managing some work tasks at home or on the go, such as checking emails or using company mobile apps to complete tasks.

Yet even by 2020, many companies had not broached the topic of remote work at all, only offering desktop-based work from their physical office locations. Many companies cited one of employers’ long-standing arguments against remote work—the idea that it erodes company culture and values, and that it ultimately results in reduced productivity and profitability.

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The Present and Future of Remote Work: Is Remote Work Here to Stay?

At the beginning of the pandemic, the floodgates opened for workers as a mandate, rather than as a request or unfulfilled fantasy. As a result, many employees wanted their remote work situations to become permanent, even if only on a part-time basis with a hybrid workplace model.

So, is remote work here to stay? Employees of today’s Great Resignation say yes.

According to CNBC in November 2021, businesses stand to lose out on nearly 70% of jobseekers when they insist on in-office work models.

Perhaps not surprisingly, 52% of 1,000 surveyed workers reported that they would prefer to work from home (WFH) permanently if they were given the option. Such remote work statistics and attitudes seem likely to grow among workers as time goes on.

Given employees’ newfound willingness to resign positions or refuse offers when employers revoke or dismiss remote work opportunities, it seems clear that employers need to seriously consider providing more flexible work schedules going forward.

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Remote work is all the more attractive for workers in recent weeks due to the rise of inflation. The cost of everything has gone up, and employees who go into an office will be spending more on clothes, lunches and all other work necessities to complete the same responsibilities as they did when prices were lower—not to mention the rising cost of fuel that makes a daily commute even more expensive.

Why is Remote Work Here to Stay? How Do Companies Benefit?

Remote work isn’t going away any time soon. But why are so many employees and even so many companies hard pressed to maintain a virtual work environment?

The option—if it’s available to your organization—offers more benefits to your business and your people than you may realize. Here are some reasons why remote work is here to stay and how companies can benefit from the remote work model.

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Brings Invaluable Diversity to Your Talent Pool

When you allow people to work from anywhere, you exponentially boost your talent pool diversity.

With remote work, companies can look for the best candidate anywhere in the country or the world, without restricting your search to the local pool of candidates. Your talent options just became a lot wider.

Improved Employee Flexibility = Improved Employee Morale

Placing your trust in candidates and employees and offering more flexibility results in improved employee morale.

Allowing remote work can show that you have trust in your team’s abilities and work ethic, which is highly motivational for dutiful workers who care about their jobs and your company. Even better, you’ll likely find that employees will still go above and beyond while also enjoying a solid work-life balance.

But won’t employees work less? Remote work statistics say no.

In December 2021, Sean Peek at Business Daily News pointed out that “Remote employees work an additional 1.4 more days per month than in-office employees, which is nearly 17 additional workdays a year.”

Employees Aren’t the Only Ones Who Get to Cut Expenses

Besides cutting the costs associated with employee turnover, you can save even more on company expenses by offering remote work opportunities.

Remote work opens the door to slash several overhead expenses, such as lease or rent fees on a smaller facility and lower costs for utilities, employee lunches and office supplies.

And you can still train your team and meet together with cloud-based collaboration tools, webinar platforms and productivity apps.

Gives You a Competitive Edge in Recruiting

Talented workers understand that, with more open jobs than workers to fill them, they have more options than ever before when it comes to their employment.

Remote work is highly attractive to employees, so when you offer top talent a remote work schedule, you elevate your company’s competitive recruiting and retention efforts. You may even be losing qualified and talented candidates by not offering remote or hybrid options.

Aren’t there Challenges to a Remote Work Environment?

No tactic is perfect. So, of course, remote work does present some challenges to employers.

Because of fewer face-to-face interactions and reduced team-building events, it can be hard for employees to build and maintain relationships with each other—a key ingredient to a happy and productive workforce.

And If your employees are operating virtually, they may feel socially isolated, which can create mental health issues and decrease collaboration and engagement for your team members.

Events like trainings and interviews will simply be different than they have been before.

How Do I Know if Remote Work Trends Are Right for My Company?

Transitioning a traditional workforce into a remote workforce is a challenging endeavor; recruiting a new virtual workforce is just as difficult. And keeping all work in-house and not using remote work at all may put you behind your competitors.

So how can you tell which direction is best for your company when it comes to the talent that will help your business succeed?

Ultimately, you as an employer must weigh the options and consider the remote work statistics to decide if it’s right for your organization.

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It’s important that every organization should consider how much of their workforce should be remote, for how long and weigh the pros and cons of having remote employees.

As you consider these pros and cons of remote work, review the existing culture and functions of your teams and departments. Try a pilot program and review the progress. If things go well, you can deploy across more areas of your company.

At least experiment with virtual work before brushing it aside. The benefits well may be worth any downside your company experiences.

At the end of the day, employing a remote workforce has revealed itself as a valid means of conducting business.

Learn More about Remote Work Statistics and Remote Workplace Models

Companies that have the option to offer remote work to their team members should highly consider the benefits it brings to all involved. Regardless of whether your company enforces an in-office format or allows for telecommuting, remote work is here to stay.

So, why not leverage the advantages?

Our team at Warren Averett Staffing & Recruiting can help your business and HR leaders assess the right remote, hybrid or on-site strategy for your organization and provide top-notch recruiting outside your local market.

Schedule a time to chat with us to discuss how we can help your company.

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This article was originally published on November 3, 2020 and most recently updated on March 23, 2022

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