LiveCareer asks the million-dollar question -- Is remote work here to stay?

Jessica N. Abraham

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They're calling it Remote 2.0 and many want to know if the remote workforce is here to stay. Is it the "new normal" -- or, will we be returning to the office once we receive the vaccine?

Countless articles have claimed that employees grew hyper-efficient when working from home, but others have been skeptical. Laszlo Bock, Former Chief of Human Resources at Google, said that while it might prove a success, for now, remote work might not be sustainable in the long-run and that we should consider our options.

What did this mean?

LiveCareer wanted an answer. So, they surveyed 1000+ Americans to find out how they felt about telecommuting during the pandemic. Would their participants be reuniting with their co-workers, or would they prefer working from home from here on out?

The results were astounding and not at all what they had imagined.

  • 29% of working professionals would quit their job if not allowed to continue working remotely
  • 62% of long-term employees preferred employers that offered work from home opportunities in the future
  • 81% of working professionals enjoyed working remotely, with 65% stating remote work had positively affected their work-life balance
  • Quite a few would start their own company if this option was no longer available

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The biggest challenge employees have faced when working from home, included distractions such as homeschooling their children (59%), staying motivated (45%) and maintaining regular communication with their peers (37%). Staying motivated often means receiving feedback from those that you work with. Working remotely, 50% of all participants either agree or strongly agree that they receive less feedback now than ever before. And, a good majority of those surveyed said the only way they would return to a physical office was if they received a pay raise or with some other benefit offered in return.

Some of these benefits they claim they'd consider:

  • Free Food, Snacks & Cofee
  • More Paid Time Off (PTO) & Emergency Days
  • A Significant Pay Raise & A More Flexible Schedule
  • Reimbursed Commute & Transportation Fees
  • Higher safety precautions for COVID-19 and/or other threats to our health in the future
  • An Improved Office Space, including Furniture and Privacy
  • More Freedom to Socialize with their Colleagues
  • Casual Dress Codes & Fewer Working Hours

It was inevitable.

The truth is, we, as humans, can easily become complacent. We just never expected this to mean that we could become complacent at work.

Some say that in order to advance, we need to face certain turmoil to be forced outside our regular paradigms and to reach the next phase of life before we reach our greatest success.

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At the onset of Covid-19, many of us were too comfortable. We could never imagine a world where we would be lost and afraid, unsure of job security, whether we would lose our homes or be unable to feed our families. We faced immediate struggle. We were on lockdown, on guard 24/7, as death was just one house short of knocking on our doors.

Businesses started to scramble. Those who refused to modernize would soon be shut down. Many changed the way they did business, adopting new technologies, and recreating their infrastructure. We began working from home.

We got sucked into the cloud. We learned how to use Slack. Zoom forced us to clean up our rooms. And, we learned the benefits of taking a short nap.

The Physical, Social & Emotional Costs of Telecommuting

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For some, there was a sharp learning curve. But soon, we would be ready. We faced challenges head-on and outperformed like never before.

While some reported "burn-out," 30% of respondents strongly disagreed when asked if their mental health deteriorated, working while on lockdown. Most enjoyed the freedoms they were given in executing daily activities. Flexibility was everything, significantly minimizing stress and allowing them to deliver with greater quality and maximum profitability.

29% of respondents felt note productive, and 10% would acquire new skills that would make them a better asset within their workplace.

“For most working professionals, the transition to the digital nomad lifestyle was quite sudden,” states LiveAdvice. “In essence, we were all muscled into WFH without having much time to prepare for the jump. On top of that, most companies expected employees to deliver on their pre-pandemic goals while juggling the stressors brought on by the disturbing circumstances.”

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“45% of Americans don't feel telecommuting has taken a toll on their mental well-being,” they continue “except for employees in manufacturing that seem to have suffered more damage compared to other industries.” They also made up 60% of the respondents, who argued that their mental well-being had deteriorated since they have started to work from home. Experts say that we were able to cope cause most of us “just got into the swing of things.” We learned how to deliver under pressure, act on our goals, and juggle our responsibilities without sharing a physical space with our co-workers.

Workers in retail, wholesale, and areas of distribution reported feeling safer in their work environment and that it had played a central role in how they conducted certain business activities.

While many of those self-employed were already used to working from home, many of these professionals reported significantly higher satisfaction and rates of productivity (92% vs. 81%) than the rest of the polled professionals in any given field. This included 65% of respondents in the educational arena.

“With regard to the challenges,” emphasizes the company, “it's important to point out that while communication doesn't seem to be an issue for most working professionals, it's certainly a more prominent obstacle for larger organizations that employ 500–1000 workers (19% increase compared to the rest.)”

Is remote work set to be sustainable?

When asked about the sustainability of business when working from home, 87% of those surveyed claim that they have preserved a sense of belonging, despite working from home, and if anything they feel closer with more frequent communication.

46% of respondents say that communication hadn't really changed, while 31% reports that communication has improved, and 23% claim that it has otherwise deteriorated. Those exceptions include Millennials (23%) in retail, wholesome, and distribution (26%) who either disagree and strongly disagree they feel connected to their employer.

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Likewise, 46% of the workforce are more aware of what's expected of them, as opposed to when they worked within a physical office environment. 28% of employees feel that their chances of getting a promotion have improved, while 54% of respondents say that they're not sure if it affects their chances at all.

According to LiveCareer, “It's also worth noting that younger workers feel more strongly their chances of getting a promotion or a raise have improved compared to older workers (34% vs. 24%). On top of that, professionals in such industries as business and finance (37%), manufacturing (43%), and IT (35%) also report better career prospects compared to other sectors.

“Perhaps, it's because said industries have historically made good use of technology, which now enables them to spotlight their contributions to line managers with ease. What also struck us as intriguing, they continue, “is that only 13% of Americans who work for powerhouses employing 1,000+ employees state that switching to telecommuting positively affected their career prospects, with 70% of them claiming it's made no difference, whatsoever.”

So, do workers want to return to the office or continue to stay in a remote capacity for good?

Admittedly so, most of us likely have mixed feelings about going back to remote work -- especially if we’ve been doing so pre-pandemic. Some feel it’s time to spread their wings and mingle with their co-workers. This is a time for self-reflection, but social interactions can breed new ideas. While some look forward to going back to the brick-and-mortar office, others are somewhat on the fence.

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Given this sentiment, LiveCareer shared a statement from one of their correspondents, and it goes a little something like this:

“There's NOTHING that will ever make me go back. Dear God, I get to work in my pajamas, from the comfort of my couch with no commute, doing tasks when and how I choose. They'd have to offer me $500,000 a year with only one day in the office a week to get me even to budge!”

A full 79% of working professionals stated that their company plans to require employees to return, eventually. In contrast, 61% of employees want their employer to let them work remotely indefinitely. On the contrary, only 51% of Americans in the Education, Retail, Wholesale, and Distribution sectors want to continue working from home once the pandemic has reached its pinnacle and has been declared as finally over.

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Jessica N. Abraham is a writer, designer and publicist, specializing in Business, Technology and the Jobs Industry. https://www.jessicanabraham.com | contact@jessicanabraham.com | Twitter: @jessicanabraham

Ohio State
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