Remote Work is Here to Stay, Like it Or Not

Numerous studies are showing work-from-home employees are happier, more satisfied, and have greater productivity in the long-term.

Remote workers report greater productivity in 2020 and 2021

Last month, WeWork’s CEO made a comment at the Wall Street Journal’s Future of Everything Festival that more engaged employees want to come back to the office, and only the least engaged ones want to remain home. “Those who are least engaged are very comfortable working from home,” Sandeep Mathrani said. “It’s also pretty obvious that those who are overly engaged with the company want to go to the office two-thirds of the time at least. Those who are least engaged are very comfortable working from home.”

It wasn’t long before Mathrani’s words began an enormous internet backlash, as many comments tend to do in the social media age. 

“Productivity is purpose and process, not place. It’s driven by why and how we work—not where we work,” wrote one Twitter user

“Honestly, I prefer working in an office but Sandeep Mathrani’s take isn’t in reality and isn’t helpful for employees who thrive in full time work from home roles,” said another.

The opinion against Mathrani’s comments was a simple one: Workers from all across the world have discovered that remote work is not only improving their moods, but also their productivity. 

When offices shut down last spring from COVID-19, companies were forced to reckon with changes that were already in motion far before the pandemic hit. Enhanced work management software programs, more flexible employers, and outsourcing staff were already in the works for years. 

The catalyst was the shutdown—The result was better employee satisfaction. 

And that is a trend replicated in numerous studies dating back to early last summer. In February, 56% of surveyed respondents in the UK reported an increase in their levels of happiness working from home. An April 2021 survey found that almost 58% of respondents in the U.S. felt more productive working remotely as well. 

Avaya Inc surveyed more than 10,000 people from 11 countries in November 2020 and found that 62% of the respondents reported being happier since the start of the pandemic because they could work from home. 

According to a survey of 231 human resource leaders reported by USA Today this week, 38% of companies say that at least 40% of their full-time employees will be working remotely a year after the pandemic subsides.

The companies not on board with long-term remote work will face the consequences as vaccine rates spike in the U.S. and COVID-19 mandates loosen. 63% of respondents in the April 2021 survey said that the ability to work remotely was either very important or most important when considering future employment decisions. 

There is no arguing that the pandemic caused devastating effects that we are nowhere near recovering from across the globe, but for many companies, this was the wakeup call needed to improve long-term employee production and retention.

Whether or not we will see companies embrace the new way of working permanently is a test of time, but one thing is for certain, people don’t want to go back.