Innovation occurs in unpredictable ways. This time it’s a result of more than half of America’s workforce enforced to work from home. GL Capital, along with a significant number of Fortune 500 Companies, believes the workplace will never be the same again.
For many of us, our homes will be an integral part of work life. Below we discuss some positive and negative consequences of the Work From Home (WFH) movement, and how it will impact the location of and type of home in which people desire to spend their waking hours.
The Work From Home (WFH) Trend is Irresistable
In a May working paper, Erik Brynjolfsson, a professor at M.I.T., indicated that around 56% of those who were employed before the pandemic are now working remotely compared to about 7% before the pandemic. The widespread availability and easy-to-use technologies, such as Zoom, Google Hangouts and other services, have enabled people to collaborate and stay in contact. In the beginning, the WFH workforce met a number of challenges and we witnessed a severe drop in employee satisfaction and engagement. However, by the end of May, people were smoothly adapting to the new work-from-home setup.
Work Psychologists with the Harvard Business Review found the success of WFH can be attributed to the fact that the whole organization was forced to do it and therefore they needed to work together to overcome the challenges. Previously, there were perceptions around the oﬀice with a subpopulation working from home that made social interactions uncomfortable. Now, when a puppy accidentally crosses in the background, people are elated. Before it may have crossed a nuanced barrier between the professional oﬀice worker and those more casually dressed at home. With everyone going virtual, there isn’t any more at-oﬀice drama - productivity remains high! The mutual belief that “I am working harder than my counterpart…” no longer exists.
Positive Attitudes about WFH | The “Gains”
Now that WFH is working, it begs the question, will we ever go back to the oﬀice?
In the Brynjolfsson study, reports show that 75% of Americans working from home do wish to continue beyond the Covid-19 pandemic. Those with a spouse and those who were previously suﬀering from long commute times are reporting very positive feelings about WFH. It is even changing the way people consider where they desire to live. Zillow shows 66% of those working from home said they would consider moving if their job allowed them to continue telecommuting.
Another article shows 25% of Fortune 500 CEOs believe the oﬀice will never fully return to its old ways. Some CEOs see many benefits of no longer flying cross-country for a single meeting when a video conference would suﬀice. A number of companies, notably hi-tech firms on the West Coast, have already publicly announced they will make WFH a long-term option. For jobs that are computer based, people may be able to work from home “forever”. This will have a large impact in the value of at-home oﬀice space and the migration of people away from high density and high priced areas of the country.