The pandemic compelled employers to reevaluate their approach to work, leading to a substantial shift towards remote work. In the pre-pandemic era, a mere 5% of the workforce operated from home; however, the virtual workspace currently accounts for nearly 30% of all employment. Although employees were initially torn between the allure of having no commute and the absence of face-to-face camaraderie with colleagues, they have developed a strong preference for working remotely.
Some companies are advocating a return to the traditional office (RTO) setting, fueled by concerns that the freedom and distractions of a home environment might erode focus, productivity, and efficiency. On the contrary, The Hill reported on studies that reveal remote workers work longer and harder:
“One of the most celebrated studies, which tracked more than 60,000 Microsoft employees over the first half of 2020, found that remote work triggered a 10 percent boost in weekly hours.
Remote employees are working more, in part, because they are commuting less. Another landmark study, based on data from 27 countries, found that remote workers saved 72 minutes in daily commuting time. On average, employees spent about half an hour of that extra time engaged in daily work: more than two hours a week.
Not only do remote workers log longer hours, but they also seem to get work done at a faster clip. An oft-cited, pre-pandemic study of workers in a Chinese travel agency found a 13 percent boost in performance for home workers. They worked more hours per shift, and each hour was a bit more productive. “
The corporate RTO trend is growing, but that may be counterproductive in the context of attracting and retaining employees. Given the overwhelming preference exhibited by employees for remote work and the mounting evidence pointing towards the numerous business benefits, companies may encounter formidable challenges in attracting top-tier talent if they do not embrace work flexibility as a fundamental part of their operational structure.
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