Anyone who has ever seen the classic 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz” is undoubtedly familiar with the famous line that Dorothy recites at the end when she wants to return to Kansas. After bidding her friends farewell and clicking her ruby red heels together three times, she repeats the same phrase over and over again – “There’s no place like home” – until at last her wish comes true and she is transported back home safe and sound.
Over the past couple of years, an increasing number of employees have shared in Dorothy’s mantra, at least when it comes to deciding where they want to work. What started out as a seemingly temporary necessity resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic – working remotely – has now become much more commonplace and is transforming the way people conduct business.
According to a recent survey, 61% of people working from home say they are doing so out of choice, whereas 38% say it’s because their office is closed. This is a reversal from October 2020, when 64% of people were working from home because their office was closed, while 36% were choosing this option. Additionally, 78% of people mostly working from home want to continue to do so after the pandemic, an increase from 64% in 2020. (1)
While there are downsides to telecommuting, more and more it seems, employees are deciding that the positives outweigh the negatives. But just what are the pros and cons of this option and what does the future hold for people who want to continue working remotely?
Home Sweet Home
When considering the many benefits of working from home, it’s not hard to see why so many people are preferring this option.
In a survey conducted by the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics at the University of Chicago, 10,000 employees said they are just as productive working from home as they were in the office. Of these respondents, 30% told researchers they were even more productive and engaged working from home. (2) The same survey team also calculated that commuting time was reduced by 62.4 million hours per day with 9 billion total hours saved from the middle of March to the middle of September 2020.
In addition to being more productive and not having to commute, employees working remotely are leading a happier, healthier work life. This is due to having more time for hobbies and interests, as well as experiencing less stress and improved personal relationships among other reasons. (3)
Telecommuting also means location independence, as job seekers now have access to a broader range of job opportunities that aren’t limited by geographic location. Plus, fully remote workers can also travel and live as digital nomads while having a meaningful career. (4)
Another great benefit is being able to fully customize your home office. You can put up as many plants, bobbleheads, and pictures of loved ones as you like! (Within reason, of course.) However you choose to make your workspace your own is entirely up to you.
Not Home-Free Just Yet
Unquestionably there are many upsides to working from home. But it’s not all sweatpants, afternoon walks, and scented candles. Being away from the office has its downsides, too.
Some experts contend that innovation is suffering without in-person collaboration. Additionally, in the absence of cherished in-office dynamics such as casual drop-ins and spontaneous moments of social collisions, many employees feel isolated and disconnected from their coworkers. (5) Chatting away on Zoom or Microsoft Teams is great, but nothing quite beats that face-to-face interaction.
Other drawbacks to telecommuting that go hand-in-hand are difficulty in establishing a work/life balance and escaping distractions at home. (6) Just as it is important to set aside hours for friends and loved ones, it’s equally as important to let them know when you need to concentrate and focus on your work. Of course, this is easier said than done.
There’s No Place Like Home
Looking ahead to the future of telecommuting, there’s no way to say for sure how long it will last. One report predicts that 36.2 million workers or 22% of Americans will be working remotely by the year 2025 – an 87% increase from pre-pandemic levels. (7) And of course there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for every workplace. While employers continue to determine whether an in-office, remote, or some sort of hybrid model is the best path moving forward, it appears that, for the next few years at least, remote working is here to stay.
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