The global pandemic has been a complete paradigm shift in many ways. The ways we travel, connect, work, and live have changed in some way since the arrival of COVID. Since the early days of the shutdown with moves to work from home, many companies were floating around prospective return-to-the-office dates. Due to the Delta variant, many companies have either pushed the date yet again or ditched the office altogether, opting for permanent work from home status. Here’s why working from home isn’t going anywhere.
Employees don’t want to go back to the office
Working from home has given a new taste of freedom that many employees hadn’t experienced before. So much so that many people are quitting or thinking about quitting due to mandates in place stating that employees need to return to the office. This article from Slate shares the many stories of people who simply don’t want to return to the office, citing commute time and energy as the primary issues.
Many people find they have additional time for both their work and personal life, leading to more productivity and balance.
Though returning to the office is just one part of the equation, all of these shifts have led to a new workplace phenomenon called “The Great Resignation” with many people leaving their job.
An Ipsos survey in partnership with the World Economic Forum found that 30% of employees would consider looking for a new job if they had to return to the office full-time. A survey by FlexJobs found that number to be almost double, with 58% of respondents saying they would look for a new job instead of returning to the office.
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) “job leavers” or those who quit their job voluntarily, continued to grow over the summer months:
- As of June 2021, 942,000 people left their job voluntarily
- As of July 2021, 930,000 people left their job voluntarily
- As of August 2021, 822,000 people left their job voluntarily
Compare this to the previous summer during the beginning part of the pandemic when 595,000 people left their jobs voluntarily as of August 2020. As the pandemic continues without a clear end in sight, many people are re-thinking their work and life and what really matters to them.
What many people are saying implicitly and explicitly is that they don’t want to “go back to normal” and more often than not, they don’t want to return to the office and face a long commute, interruptions, office politics, and micromanaging when the work can be done at home.
The benefits of working from home outweigh the cons
Working from home can lead to distractions, technical difficulties and make it harder to officially unplug as you transition from “work” to “off work”. But even with those challenges, a FlexJobs survey found the benefits outweigh the cons.
In fact, 84% of survey respondents said the top benefit of working remotely is not having a commute. Coming in a close second, 75% of respondents noted the cost savings associated with working from home.
What’s astonishing is that the survey also noted that 38% of respondents estimate saving $5,000 per year by working from home, while 20% of respondents estimate saving double that at $10,000 per year.
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Though there are cost-savings while working from home, there are still downsides that exist. The top gripes with working from home noted in the FlexJobs survey were difficulty unplugging (35%) and dealing with non-work related distractions (28%).
As you can see from the numbers, while there are cons to working from home many employees find that the benefits make up for it.
There are many unknowns with COVID variants
If you’ve been monitoring the COVID situation, you know that the Delta variant has changed the course of the pandemic. In early summer, it seemed that we might see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Then Delta hit and had its own plans and changed the course of the pandemic. Due to its highly infectious nature and transmissibility, many offices pushed back their reopening and more lockdowns and mandates of various degrees happened worldwide.
The CDC notes that mutations in the virus are expected and at this rate, it seems like we’re going through the whole Greek alphabet when it comes to types of variants.
Given the setback with the Delta variant, it’s tough to make definitive plans for the future and have set plans to return to the office. The many variants and unknowns of the future make working from home a long-term possibility and a paradigm shift in what was once “office culture”.
The bottom line
The pandemic has touched everyone’s life in some way and has changed work as we know it. One of the largest shifts is the move to work from home. At this point, working from home isn’t going anywhere as employers continue to stay on this path indefinitely or permanently because of the pandemic.
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Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer, podcast host of the Mental Health and Wealth show, and author of Dear Debt. She’s a cat mom to two jazzy cats, Miles and Thelonious, an amateur boxer, music lover, and needs coffee to function.