According to the findings from the 2021 American Community Survey, there was a significant increase in the percentage of people working primarily from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the survey results indicate that the number of remote workers in the United States tripled from around 5.7% of all workers (approximately 9 million individuals) in 2019 to around 17.9% of all workers (roughly 27.6 million people) in 2021.
While the rise in remote work may seem like an unequivocally positive development on the surface, it is worth examining the issue in more depth. On the one hand, working from home offers various benefits for both employers and employees, such as increased flexibility and work-life balance, reduced overhead costs, and improved productivity due to fewer workplace distractions. However, there are also potential downsides to the increase in remote work that deserve consideration, including risks of social isolation, blurred work-life boundaries, additional household costs, and technical challenges related to communication, collaboration, and cybersecurity.
Although the significant increase in remote work that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic may appear wholly beneficial at first glance, there are a number of complex factors to weigh on both the pros and cons side of the issue. As companies determine their post-pandemic policies, they must thoughtfully analyze how to maximize the advantages of remote work while mitigating the potential disadvantages in order to support the well-being and productivity of their workforces.
On the positive side, the rise in remote work does present an opportunity for innovation rather than an unequivocally positive or negative development.
Let’s dive deeper into this topic and also see where sensor technology and data with 4SITE can assist with creating a meaningful workplace experience for both employees and employers.
The COVID-19 pandemic significantly disrupted how businesses and their employees work. When the world went into lockdown, companies had no choice but to have staff work remotely from home. Though some businesses have had certain employees return to the office, many continue to work remotely full-time or part-time.
While working from home seemed advantageous at first and remains ideal for some, many businesses are encountering challenges related to laws and regulations. The costs of ensuring compliance are increasing, and bringing employees back to the office is one approach to help mitigate these rising costs.
There are numerous critical factors contributing to the increasing regulatory compliance expenses for organizations with remote employees.
To begin with, monitoring and overseeing remote workers poses significant challenges for companies. Not having employees on-site means organizations may need to implement technological solutions to track worker activity, hours, and productivity. Deploying and managing these monitoring systems requires financial investments and can raise privacy concerns, adding to compliance costs.
Furthermore, verifying the identity of remote employees and ensuring only authorized individuals access company systems is more difficult when people are working from dispersed locations. Additional security measures like two-factor authentication, virtual private networks, and identity management software are often necessary to authenticate remote workers, which also increases costs.
Finally, providing adequate training to remote employees on compliance policies and ensuring they fully understand all regulations are more complicated when people are not together in a central office. Companies frequently have to develop online training programs and modules, offer video conferencing and virtual sessions, and provide additional resources to guarantee remote workers are up-to-date on all compliance rules.
Bringing employees back to a shared office space is one strategy businesses can use to mitigate rising compliance costs associated with remote work. When offices reopen, companies have the opportunity to redesign workspaces to better support productivity, collaboration, and employee well-being. By embracing flexible and optimized office solutions, businesses can create an ideal environment to meet the needs of their workforce today and adapt to future changes.
Mitigating compliance costs isn't the only reason to consider bringing employees back to the office. While working from home may seem appealing in some ways, companies should weigh the benefits of an in-person office environment.
There are several advantages to having employees work together in an office space:
Increased productivity. For many employees, being in a workplace setting helps them focus and be more productive. Working from home does not suit everyone's needs or preferences, as some may find it difficult to concentrate amid the various distractions of home like pets, family members, roommates, and more. Employees may also have slower access to work resources and information from home, reducing their productivity.
Improved collaboration. Studies have shown that collaboration between coworkers is 52% more likely when working in an office environment. Collaboration is crucial for many jobs and work projects, so being in the office facilitates teamwork and cooperation.
Better well-being. Again, working from home is not ideal for all employees and their well-being. Some people thrive on social interaction and benefit greatly from the camaraderie of an office, leading to higher levels of happiness, empathy, and overall wellness.
A sense of purpose. Being in an office can boost mental health and provide employees with a sense of purpose or direction. Spending time with colleagues in person helps to foster the feeling of a team working together toward a common goal. It also serves as a reminder of the underlying mission or "why" behind the work.
While reducing costs is an important consideration, companies should also weigh the significant benefits of bringing employees back to the office, at least on a hybrid basis. The office environment leads to a more productive, collaborative, and purposeful workforce with greater well-being and job satisfaction.
Bringing employees back to a shared office space is one strategy businesses can use to mitigate rising compliance costs associated with remote work. With this, companies have the opportunity to redesign workspaces to better support productivity, collaboration, and employee well-being.
By embracing flexible and optimized office solutions, like those found with CORT Permanently Flexible™ Solutions, businesses can create an ideal environment to meet the needs of their workforce today and adapt to future changes through comprehensive solutions such as:
Rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach to office design, organizations should analyze how employees truly work and leverage that data to create an office environment tailored to their needs. Continually optimizing office space and design based on changes in work styles is crucial for supporting a modern, hybrid workforce. Making data on space utilization an invaluable tool for organizations aiming to attract and retain talent, create a better workplace experience, and remain flexible.
As compliance costs continue to increase, bringing employees back to the office is becoming an increasingly compelling option for many companies. While working from home seemed advantageous at first and remains ideal for some, businesses are encountering challenges related to laws and regulations, productivity, collaboration, employee well-being, and security. The costs of ensuring compliance and supporting a remote workforce are rising, and reopening offices is one approach to help mitigate these rising costs.
When partnering with 4SITE by CORT, organizations can create an optimized office environment that meets their employees’ needs and helps their business thrive. With data and insights on how the workplace is being utilized, 4SITE enables workplace modifications that maximize productivity, collaboration, innovation, and job satisfaction. Paired with the flexibility found with office furniture rental from CORT, businesses can seamlessly transform their office layout to support ideal work settings for their workforce today and into the future.
Contact us today to schedule a demo or get started. When choosing to partner with 4SITE, organizations gain a powerful ally in creating a workplace experience that meets the needs of their workforce, reduces costs, and helps business grow.