More and more companies of all sizes have told their remote employees to expect to continue working from home on a long term basis. While the present situation during the pandemic requires it, companies should expect this to be an ongoing situation because there is no immediate end in sight. Companies such as Google, Twitter, Reuters, Facebook, Zillow, and many more, have recently told employees they can expect to work from home for another year.
Depending on the type of work the employees needed to do from home, some of the companies have even decided to give each work from home employee money to be able to set up a home office. Some companies, such as Microsoft and Amazon, have announced plans to bring employees back to the office in January.
Factors Determining Comfort Levels
Although telecommuting employees are accustomed to working in an office, by this time they have become used to working at home. Employees are mixed as to how they feel about it. Several factors enter into their comfort level and effectiveness. These things may be affected by things like whether they have children or seniors at home they must watch; are they self-disciplined and self-motivated; are they more social-oriented; do they have the right equipment; do they have good leadership and communication as to what is needed day-by-day; and more?
Some Employees More Productive Doing Home Based Work
Thinking about the future and what you want to accomplish in it will also help to mold your ideas for home workers. Many companies have discovered that employees can accomplish more while working at home than they would in an office. Some employees may be as much as 25% more productive at home.
Improve Now Your Coordination and Communication with Employees
If your company should decide to go this way, it is a good idea to be experimenting now. Find the best ways and tools to communicate with your teams, whether it is through Zoom, creating video messages, emails, messaging, or a combination of media. Too much communication will only slow them down because they will need to stop what they are doing and read or watch the message or meeting. Avoid micromanaging to help ensure that they are more comfortable and relaxed.
Reevaluate Your Need for Office Space
Without the need for employees to have to work in an office, you may be able to downsize your facility requirements. One company, Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), that just built a new massive HQ on an 8-acre campus – but never moved in – has just decided to sell it and keep their employees working from home. Companies that are thinking of expanding their office space may need to rethink it and save their money and just continue to let their employees work at home.
Happier Employees Stay Longer
Surveys indicate that few job seekers today are looking for fully remote jobs. Although some are desperate enough for work that they are willing to accept any type of position, most indicate that they would prefer a combination with flex hours (up to 80%). This seems to be borne out by other surveys that reveal that work at home employees have a better work-life balance, are not as stressed, and they are willing to stay with their employers longer. They are also happy that they avoid the daily commute.
Recent surveys reveal that employees who work from home may need more support from employers. They want to feel like their needs are being heard and acted upon. Employers need to have video meetings where feelings, needs, and questions are openly discussed among team members. Health and mental health issues may also need to be addressed at times.