Opinion

Opinion: Benefits of Remote Working are Attractive But Will Stay-at-Home Jobs Become the New Norm?

WASHINGTON, DC, Jan 21 – The pandemic has changed the way we live our lives. The question is, will we ever return to the way it used to be? As Yogi Berra once said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

What we do know is that the workforce has learned to get things done remotely and, for a variety of reasons, it would appear that this new way of doing business will likely become the post-COVID norm for many workers. An Apollo Technical recruiting agency analysis shows that by 2025 an estimated 22% of the workforce (36.2 Million Americans) will be working from home, COVID or no COVID. 

Whether this is a good thing is debatable. It might work for some employees and employers, but it has its drawbacks as well. Another employment agency, Indeed.com, cautions that a remote workforce has its drawbacks: increased isolation, home office costs, risk of overworking, a risk to productivity, distractions at home, workplace disconnect, disproportionate work-life balance, and less face time.  

In other words, bosses may support working from home as the result of the pandemic, but many of them would rather have their employees in a workplace setting because, for one thing, it enhances the ability of their employees to work as a team. It also builds comradery, which in turn increases collaboration, efficiency, and productivity. It’s easier to work as a team when team members work face to face; computer screens are not conducive to brainstorming sessions.

It is likely that a goodly number of “isolated” remote workers are anxious to return to a “one on one” work-a-day world. The Apollo survey shows that nearly 70% of full-time workers are already working from home 92% of workers expect to work from home at least one day a week going forward, and 80% expect they’ll be working from home three days a week.

The fact is that white-collar workers currently make up the majority of America’s workforce. It is estimated that nearly 60% of jobs in the U.S. are filled by white-collar workers, according to the AFL-CIO’s Department for Professional Employees [DPE]. About 14% are described as blue-collar, and the rest are what are known as gray-collar workers —  healthcare professionals, firefighters, police officers and airline pilots, etc. 

Obviously, the overwhelming majority of those with white-collar jobs make up the “stay-at-home-workforce.” Fewer, if any, on-site blue-collar and gray-collar workers are able to work from home and many of them like it. They get more at-home time with their families; they don’t have to endure long commutes, they get increased flex time, and, of course, they save money.

But employers have their own benefits to consider. The nearly two years of isolation have shown them that their workforce can be more productive have more time to complete assignments. And remote workers and their employers also feel a better sense of loyalty. It also gives workers more time on the job. And, of course, a company with a remote workforce has little need for big overhead expenses. They can downsize their offices, for one thing. They also save on the cost of electricity, building maintenance, furniture, and equipment.

You can bet that many of them – if not the majority – are anxious to return to an office environment. In fact, for the most part, many remote workers will eventually wind up going back to their workplaces when and if there is an end to the pandemic. But even in a world rid of the deadly threat of COVID, the stay-at-home workforce will continue to exist to one extent or another.

A survey conducted by the remote worker recruiting firm, FlexJobs, asked 2,100 remote workers like working from home and found that 58% of them would “absolutely” look for a new job if they had to return to the office in the aftermath of the pandemic. “An additional 46% and 43%, respectively, are concerned that returning to the office means less flexibility and less work-life balance.” 

As for the benefits of working from home, 55% of them said that their productivity has increased, and 90% of them said that remote working allowed them to enhance their skills. More than half of them took professional development courses, 47% learned how to use remote working tools, and another 44% learned new professional skills.

In fact, according to Apollo’s researchers, “1,500 hiring managers found that due to COVID-19, 61.9% of the companies they asked were planning more remote work now and in the following years to come … Whether employers are ready or not, remote working is here to stay at least for the next few years. But, of course, there will always be those that prefer working in an office.” 


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Karl
4 months ago

Do you really believe that pro-remote workers were honest about their productivity increases or skills enhancement? Eventually, blue collar workers, through their unions, will challenge the unfairness of having to travel and report to a work location (and pay day care) while making less pay than their white collar counterparts who are at home in their pajamas, playing with their kids and watching game shows.

Patricia A Arsenault
4 months ago

Now, this sounds interesting! Hmm… TU for sharing :)

Bluidsue
4 months ago

I think that like learning, everyone is different. My one daughter is a natural born learner, as an adult working from home since COVID she loves it. Video meetings are her thing and she is always spouting off about new ideas for work. She became a corporate person who trouble shoots and coordinates the transformation of stores being bought for a major company. My other daughter learned in class. If the teacher was a good in class teacher, vibrant, explaining and going through everything in class, my daughter did well. If the teacher relied on her to learn through homework, she struggled. She became a teacher and loves her students and misses not seeing them in class.

I’ve always told my kids we are all different. You can’t expect a future paramedic to sit still in class for hours a day. They aren’t made for that and they are action people…so not me.

There will be people who do better at home and others who don’t. I hope it is here to stay. Choice is good. I liked my quiet office with minimal interaction. I like my office physically separate from my home.

We are all different. As long as there is a way to monitor at home workers so bosses know who is productive and who is not is not is vital to work from home success.

Dr Moe Howard
3 months ago
Reply to  Bluidsue

You mentioned “pandemic.” This was/is NOT a pandemic. It was/is a “PLANdemic.”Whether or not some people may enjoy working from home or not, what does this teach our CHILDREN? In my opinion, it teaches them it’s ok for an adult to sit home on their ass, get on their pc, sit and joke all day with colleagues about everything under the sun while actually accomplishing very little. And I hear some companies even require you to mask-up on zoom calls because one person thinks he/she may get covid. Now that’s insane, just like sitting home on your ass all day “working.”I wonder how many breaks these people take. I wonder how long they extend their lunch hour or ½ hour?I wonder, if the “employee” has time to actually devote time to the children that they’re raising, or how much company/government tax payer dollars everyone is paying is actually used to babysit their children.This entire concept is now WRONG. I understood it in the beginning but you need to get your asses back to your place of employment. Your employer has to pay rent on those empty offices, the owners of those buildings have mortgages to pay…. and on and on….Oh…. My God… I forgot… You’re only worried about YOURSELVES, NO ONE ELSE. STOP BEING SO SELFISH!Remember this you lazy ass people, the government buildings that have been empty for about 2 years are NOT all owned by the government. A lot are leased. Again that is MY TAX dollars WASTED and YOU are definitely part of the PROBLEM. WAKE UP. OUR COUNTRY IS HURTING

PaulE
4 months ago

It all depends on the nature of the work involved and whether the job entails directly interfacing with the public on a regular basis. Service workers by their very nature are dealing with the public on a regular basis, so remote is never going to be a real option for them. For many types of high-end sales jobs, neither the employer nor the client (customer) is going to be satisfied with the employee dealing 100 percent of the time on a remote video with customers providing substantial revenue to the company. For the vast majority of office workers on the other hand, it is not inconceivable that a majority can perform their work quite satisfactory via a remote basis.

It also comes down to how much of a self-starter each employee is. Some people need little to no supervision and they are as productive or more productive working remotely than having to waste hours a day commuting back and forth to an office to accomplish the exact same work. Other employees need almost constant monitoring to stay on track. So it is tough to make broad generalizations.

My sense is most corporate leaders realize the idea of high-rise office towers or corporate campuses filled with thousands of people commuting back and forth to work each day is pretty much dead. You’re going to see a lot of big city office space leases not being renewed as time goes by. Some of that office space can be repurposed into either data centers, warehouse facilities or even residential space. However, a lot of it can’t, so that will be a big issue going forward. Yet another nail in the economic coffin of major Democrat run cities and states, where they will end up scrambling to find ways to make up for the lost revenue. Can we all say massive tax hikes on the horizon for a lot of Democrat run cities and states? I can. The only alternative is yet another major federal bailout like we just gave the Democrat run city and states last year in the last Covid CARES bill. Then we all get to pay for bailing them out.

Michael Hamilton
4 months ago
Reply to  PaulE

Very astute.

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