If you started working from home when the coronavirus (COVID-19) hit, chances are you’ll still be working there a year from now.
In a survey of human resource (HR) managers conducted by The Conference Board, 77 percent said they expect employees will still be working from home a year or more after the virus subsides.
Over the summer, many HR managers expect their organizations may implement more permanent changes to the workplace that some employees may consider painful. Those changes could include additional layoffs and corporate restructuring.
At the same time, the shift to a more remote workforce may hold some advantages for companies and provide opportunities for advancement for some employees.
"A shift toward more remote working will have major implications for HR departments," said Robin Erickson, PhD, a report co-author and principal researcher at The Conference Board. "Among other changes, they will be able to recruit workers from a broader geographic pool and will need to hire and promote those who can inspire remote teams."
‘Immense potential of remote work’
Some companies had remote teams in place before the coronavirus hit. The report found those companies not only had the smoothest transition during the shutdown but also have seen increases in productivity.
“This self-reported boost in productivity suggests the immense potential of remote work – and the flexibility it provides – to improve performance and results,” the authors wrote.
The report also found many companies are planning permanent changes to the workforce, including layoffs, and they are likely to occur in the next 60 days. Companies with more industrial and manual services workers are much more likely to implement furloughs with benefits, conduct permanent layoffs, require employees to use paid time off or vacation, and cut salaries.
"Top factors that determine the severity of a company's workforce cost reductions include the ability to continue doing one's job remotely and the ability to safely return to the workplace," said Frank Steemers, a report co-author and economist at The Conference Board.
Many employees prefer remote work
If working from home is the future of the workplace, a lot of employees appear to be just fine with that. A survey by The Grossman Group, a Chicago-based leadership and communications consultancy, found that 48 percent of employees now working from home would like to continue the arrangement.
"Many employees have gotten a taste of working from home for the first time, and they like it,” said David Grossman, CEO of The Grossman Group. “Others can't wait to get back to the office.”
Grossman says companies may end up with a hybrid configuration, with some employees working from home on a permanent basis while others report to smaller office hubs.