Coronavirus and Remote Work
The coronavirus has catapulted Americans into a remote work environment. Companies that once feared the work-from-home transition now have two choices: take the plunge or wait for financial ruin.
This transition is necessary right now, but what will the future of work look like even after state-mandated social distancing is a thing of the past? Should companies embrace this brave new remote workspace? Or, will employees be only too happy to rush back to their offices?
Working From Home: The Future of Work?
The coronavirus may have initiated a mass WFH culture in the U.S., but this movement was already taking shape.
One of the main benefits of working from home for employees, employers and the environment is fewer hours commuting. Employees ‘get back’ that commuting time. For some, that can add up to three or four hours a day — or 15-to-20 hours a week.
Employers not only get tax breaks associated with remote workers, but they also get to choose from a larger pool of potential hires when the location doesn’t determine a prospect’s availability. Offering remote work can also elevate your employer brand.
On a grand scale, we’re also starting to see how much commuting affects the environment. Air pollution has dropped significantly in the few months since the coronavirus hit. Fewer drivers on the road means less smog and pollution. These effects have been documented as far away as China and right here in the U.S.
Health Benefits of Long-Term Social Distancing
As a result of the coronavirus, we’ve been working from home and maintaining distances of three-to-six feet from members outside of our home. While this isn’t something we can maintain for extended time periods, we can benefit from a modified version of social distancing.
How many times has one ‘patient zero’ infected your entire office or team with the flu? How many times have your kids brought home common colds from school?
Flexible work schedules can help stop the spreads of other viruses, germs and bacteria.
Economic Benefits of Remote Work
Flexible work allows U.S. citizens to apply for more positions and doesn’t limit workers to applying for jobs only in their geographic areas. Remote work would bring income to areas that are geographically cut off from the rest of the country. A plant or office closure in Glasgow, Kentucky, wouldn’t create such a financial burden if residents could apply for remote jobs all over the country.
When Remote Work Isn’t Possible
According to the American Bureau of Labor, only 29 percent of workers have the capability to work from home. Other workers might include (as is so painfully obvious right now during the coronavirus crisis), restaurant workers, warehouse staff, assembly-line workers and delivery people. Also, jobs that require security clearances often cannot transition to WFH positions.
That being said, the coronavirus has shown us just how resourceful we are during a crisis. If we can create as many remote working opportunities as possible, we could reduce the rate of unemployment — while slowing the spread of viruses and reducing pollution.