Is working from home to become the ‘new normal’ for business?

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The Atlantic published a story this week asking if working from home is here to stay once the COVID panic has ended.

I have long suspected that will be the case, and The Atlantic reaffirmed that belief.

In 2015, Stanford University Economist Nick Bloom published a study that found Chinese call-center employees who worked from home were 13 percent more productive than employees in a control group, because they took fewer breaks and made more calls per minute. They were also happier and were less likely to quit their job.

I have worked from home since 2009 and would have a very hard time going back to a 9-to-5 office routine. I like the flexibility of working when needed without interruption.

Even at my last paid job as a magazine editor, I lamented the fact I had to drive 30 minutes one way just to sit in a cubicle and use a company-issued laptop — which I had to take home anyway. I always found it easier to work from home where I can be much more productive on my own schedule.

I have been a night owl most of my life anyway, which means that I can produce far more words late at night than I can early in the morning.

Yes, collaboration is important, but surely those vital in-person meetings can take place the few times a month they really make sense. Offices would be set up with shared office space and conference rooms rather than individual offices and cubicles.

For employers, the benefits are huge as well. They don’t need open offices sprawling across expensive office real estate. Nor do they need to pay for phones, computers, break rooms, restrooms, internet connections and string electricity from cubicle to cubicle for dozens of employees when workers already have access to all that at home.

While working remotely confers some mental-health and other benefits, the “job” as we know it might never be the same, the Atlantic noted. Conferences, in-person meetings, and even handshakes might be deemed not worth the risk of infection.

Already, about 29 percent of college graduates worked from home at least some of the time. Once coronavirus restrictions are eased, Bloom and others expect the proportion of Americans working from home to grow.

“I could see it being totally standard for jobs that can be performed at home to allow two days at home” per week, he explained.

Honestly, I see “the perk” being extended to three or four days a week.

Entrenched norms are the primary reason why businesses haven’t shifted to a work-at-home environment, said Julia Pollak, a labor economist with ZipRecruiter. The panic forced nearly two-thirds of Americans to work remotely, making it clear just how much work can get done from home, even despite the presence of children, she added.

Once the kids go back to school, that gigantic distraction is eliminated, making it even easier to be more productive in the comforts of home.

People have been saying we will never go back to life as we know it when the COVID situation passes, just like 911 changed things for America. The Atlantic shows how working from home may be one immediate change that takes place. The change is long overdue in the 21st century.

The full story can be found at The Atlantic.

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Greg Gerber

A native of Wisconsin who moved to Arizona in 2009, Greg Gerber is a DODO -- Dad of Daughters Only -- to three grown daughters. He worked as a journalist for many years before pursuing a career as a faith-based writer, author, coach and speaker. Greg is the author of Pornocide: How Lust is Killing Your Faith, Stealing Your Joy and Destroying Your Life.

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