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Many people won't give up working from home

Jhe past 15 months or so have been traumatic in just about every way but one; many of us have loved, if not loved, working from home. Wearing waist-to-toe pajamas, avoiding tedious commutes and avoiding time spent chatting in the office are seen as perks by more than a few American workers — the kind of perks people hate to give up in a vaccinated world.

A recent study conducted by FlexJobs, a flexible and remote job search site, surveyed 2,100 people and found that 65% of them would like to continue working from home full-time after the pandemic, while 56% said they would in fact quit their jobs if forced to return to the office. Respondents cited avoidance of commuting, cost savings, flexibility and work-life balance as reasons for choosing life over telecommuting.

The “breathing room” offered by working from home is what employees love, says Erin Hatzikostas, founder and CEO of career coaching firm b Authentic inc and author of You do You(ish): Unleash your authentic superpowers to get the career you deserve. Employees can now take a short break from work to water their lawn or drive their child to a friend without it being a huge ordeal. And anecdotally, she noticed that men were able to contribute more to the work of managing a household and children while working from home, which is a benefit that both partners can enjoy for different reasons.

When remote work is permitted, employees can also expand the geography of a job search or, conversely, move away from industrial hubs to more affordable areas. This increase in options puts employees in a more powerful position than they've ever been in, Hatzikostas says, because companies have to work harder to attract workers who have more potential employers to choose from. “HR has have to get out of their 'same shit, different day' and figure out how to start paying people for their value, period," she says. "The value they bring, no matter where they live, their educational background, their title...we have to find a place where we pay for the value."

Not everyone who works from home loves it, of course; According to Pew Research conducted in December 2020, younger respondents cited productivity challenges associated with working from home, as did parents trying to juggle childcare while telecommuting. Plus, people are just sick of the four walls of their homes, says Caileen Kehayas Holden, content director at Career Contessa, a career advice and job search site for women.

And one of the biggest reasons people stay in their jobs is because of their friends at work, says Cara Silletto, MBA, CSP, president and chief retention officer at retention-focused consulting firm Magnet Culture. employees. For some people, the lack of contact time with these friends can make their job less enjoyable. She also notes that some people don't have the most conducive home office equipment or situation for their work, so those people might prefer to be in the office at least occasionally. And some employees she spoke to actually miss their commutes because they provided a buffer between meeting the needs of those at home and meeting the needs of those at work. In other words, they viewed their travels as a well-deserved break from the myriad demands of life.

For these reasons and more, 33% of respondents in the FlexJobs study hoped to be allowed to combine office and home work in the future, and that's the sentiment Stilletto says he hears the more. “Employees want to have their cake and eat it too,” she says. “I hear that employees want an office to go to, but they want the flexibility to go there when they want, and to be able to stay home and reduce their commute and have more flexibility when they want.”

As a result, both Hatzikostas and Silletto believe employers will need to provide some flexibility in order to attract and retain talent in the future. "TCompanies that are more flexible and clearer with their expectations will be the ones that win the battle for talent,” says Silletto. Both believe that the old way of managing - counting butts in seats, for example - will be archaic and stuffy. to employees in a post-pandemic world, and that managers will need to adapt their management style to focus less on face-to-face time and more on contribution.

In fact, Holden thinks potential employees will view the lack of flexibility to work from home as a red flag when considering their job options. "It's going to be indicative of a workplace that really doesn't care about its employees," she says.

There are also benefits for employers who can find the right mix of in-person and home-based requirements. Silletto points out that they can save office space if they stagger employees to arrive on different days. Hatzikostas also points out that they can leverage a wider array of talent if they aren't attached to the idea of ​​employees being in the office, as they can hire from other cities, states, and even countries.

She further notes, however, that employers face challenges when it comes to best fostering collaboration and innovation, and she points to the WFH experience led at Yahoo by former CEO Marissa Mayer there. a few years ago, which led her to call employees back to the office and cite a lack of innovation as the reason. But Hatzikostas isn't too troubled by this challenge. "I used to joke that by the time they figure out how to house everyone in San Francisco, we can probably be holograms that make it look like we're there anyway," she says. . "Don't rule out that technology will continue to blow us away."

Silletto says some employers are also in a difficult situation given that the work done by some of their employees must take place on site while it is entirely possible for others to do their work remotely. Allowing workers to stay home under these circumstances can lead to resentment from workers who show up at the office, she says.

And of course, the ability to work from home in general is a proof of privilege, as many workers have been unable to do so even during the pandemic, let alone after. According to Pew Research, there is a clear class difference between those who can work from home and those who cannot. Sixty-two percent of those with a bachelor's degree or higher said they could work from home, compared to just 23% of those without a four-year college degree.

There is also an ongoing discussion about the potential harms of working from home from a career advancement perspective. Atlantic recently reported that people who work from home receive fewer promotions and raises. Whether this is true in a post-pandemic world in which working from home has become normalized and widespread remains to be seen.

Either way, Hatzikostas, Holden and Silletto are optimistic that the WFH is here to stay in one form or another. It should also accelerate an even more revolutionary labor trend, says Hatzikostas. She believes that our days of employment with one employer at a time are numbered and that most of us will soon have contracts with multiple employers at once.

"The biggest divide around everything is the benefits and all that traditional stuff - there's a lot to overturn," she says. But as that piece of the puzzle is somehow solved, she claims, the job will become a looser, freer relationship. “There will be this whole trend of regular businesses moving from full-time employees to a freelance type concept,” she says. "Everyone is watching work from home conversation, but there's this whole other trend that almost makes this conversation largely irrelevant."

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