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Telecommuting - is it here to stay?

If asked this question six months ago, most employers would have said maybe. With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, many employers have been forced to rethink this. With little notice, employers had to figure out how to make remote work a reality for their employees and now, after months of experimentation and data, employers must determine if it will continue beyond the pandemic.

In 2019, 3.4% of the total U.S.workforce telecommuted according to the annual Flexjobs survey and 74% of survey participants believe that flexible working arrangements are the “new normal”. In response to Covid-19, almost 50% of employees are now working remotely according to the Brooking Institution. Four months later, it’s not surprising that more than 42% of employees want to continue to work remotely more of the time after Covid-19, according to a survey of 1,200 U.S. employees.

The primary reasons for wanting to do so include eliminating their commute, having a more flexible schedule, and feeling more productive with their work. While there are a few disadvantages, including professional isolation, fewer opportunities to share information, and the blurring of the lines between employee’s work and personal lives, there are clear advantages to telecommuting. Flexjob’s annual survey results indicate that fewer distractions/interruptions, reduced stress, and a quiet environment all lead to greater employee productivity and job satisfaction.

In addition to increased productivity and improved employee morale, there are a number of tangible benefits to companies offering telecommuting to their employees. According to the annual Flexjobs survey, employers that offer remote work tend to attract and retain talent at a higher rate. In fact, 80% of U.S. workers will decline a job offer without a flexible working arrangement. Taking it a step further, more than 75% of survey participants believe that remote work and a flexible schedule are the most effective way to retain employees, from a non-monetary perspective, and are more likely to stay with their current employer. Companies offering remote work experience 25% lower turnover according to Owl Labs’ 2017 State of Remote Work Report. Telecommuting is also good for business as employees tend to take fewer sick days/absences and can lead to lower operating costs.

While not every job can be done remotely, we have seen in the “new normal” many can. Telecommuting is here to stay and will increase with time as employers become more comfortable with this new model. Companies like FaceBook and Twitter will be incorporating increased options for remote work into their model. By 2028, 73% of all teams will have employees working remotely according to Flexjobs' annual survey. In order to stay competitive, employers will need to adapt to this “new normal” in order to attract and retain the best talent.

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