The widespread adoption of remote working has mainly been successful, with research indicating that productivity has remained relatively high despite potential impacts on collaboration and innovation. And the paradigms of remote work schedules have not succumbed to the weight of downtime. Up to now.
Consider the economic benefits of remote working
During Covid-19, researchers looked at the economic benefits of remote working. Several studies have been done.
As a knowledge worker, you have probably become all too familiar with tools like Zoom due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Working remotely can improve team productivity if you have the right connectivity. That said Neil Parker of GM of EMEA at Laiye, supplier of intelligent automation. However, it is not without difficulties. If you haven’t met someone yet, the nature of the connection is intrinsically different. This can make it difficult to communicate effectively in challenging circumstances, be it a partnership or more disciplinary issues.
To a significant degree, tools such as: Zoom allowing knowledge workers to continue doing what they used to do. A recent study from the Kellogg Business School looks at how things could have turned out differently if the epidemic had broken out before such tools were widely available.
It is normal here with remote working.
The researchers looked at the scenario in seven countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany and the United States. They concluded that the economic impact of the pandemic would have been much greater if remote working had not been such an easy choice.
Researchers remind us that distant workers contribute not only through their labor, but also through their expenses. For example, when people adapted their homes for remote work, spending on office equipment increased significantly.
Experts discovered the findings after collecting GDP statistics for each country, the number of employees and the number of hours they worked per week. They also collected information about people’s and their employers’ spending on things like office furniture and equipment and commercial electricity consumption as a measure of workplace use. Finally, they analyzed Google’s mobility data to determine how many hours each person worked at home or at work.
The output decreases.
If working remotely hadn’t been an option by 2020, GDP is estimated to have fallen about twice as much and Wall Street would have spoken much earlier.
What was surprising, however, was that the statistics did not support the productivity increase. According to the researchers, this claim was only valid if the only inputs were found as energy consumption or office space.
In other words, it suggests that such things were not a cost when we were working from home, which is not the case. The apparent productivity boost disappeared once they included all costs in our work-from-home environment.
Who pays the bill for remote working?
Some companies, such as Google, have given employees money to help them set up their home office. The majority have left it up to the employees to cover the costs. Eliminating commuting costs has been an acceptable trade-off for many. As more hybrid work patterns emerge, there are no more bets on what the stats will show in the future.
Many home setups were quite suitable for working remotely. With investments in superfast broadband to support Netflix — and work — and online gaming — and equally useful for remote work, even when it wasn’t meant to be.
Researchers couldn’t determine whether people were more productive when they worked from home or not. But they think they can develop a proxy to determine the relative productivity of home versus personal work. When the workplaces reopened, employers had the opportunity to Staff members back to office.
Returning to the office will undoubtedly come at a cost to the company. Due to social distancing and other health and safety considerations. So if employees are just as productive at home, it makes sense to keep them there.
A one-time change
People came back when the cost fell back to something akin to normal.
The data shows the benefits of remote working for organizations and the economy during the epidemic. However, it is still uncertain whether we would sustain the change we have seen during the Covid restrictions in the long term.
There are certainly pros and cons to working from home that have not yet been resolved, and it may be a few more years before the correct correlation data shows up.
What does the future hold for employees who work from home?
The data in the future could be especially interesting if our ties with our colleagues have been damaged, if the homeworkers have become alienated, and if social connections and project communication have suffered.
As several studies have shown, the onboarding and collaboration and innovation that come from deep connectivity with our colleagues have suffered. We are less able to form relationships with our managers if we don’t see them in the office. These facts can limit personal opportunities for professional advancement.
While remote working has certain benefits, people need to be careful about what they want and demand in the work-from-home industry – as it can have unintended consequences that we can’t possibly guess about.
Featured Image Credits: Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko; Pexels; Thank you!