New-normal, next normal, back to normal; we have a lot of ways of talking about coming out of the pandemic restrictions and resuming our interactions in the world. Companies and their employees are grappling with the going back to work version of normal.
Some leaders view the work from home mandate as an anomaly that needs to be course-corrected once restrictions are lifted. The CEO of Goldman Sachs says that working remotely is not an ideal situation for investment banks and businesses that require collaboration. He intends for everyone to return to the office as soon as circumstances allow. JPMorgan Chase is following suit and Google is limiting work from home to 14 days annually without a manager’s approval.
Other employers are embracing the work from anywhere ideology and the percentage of those permanently working remotely is expected to double in 2021. The expectation that productivity would fall when so many people were working remotely just didn’t happen. As a result, companies such as Twitter, Square, Facebook, and many others are planning to allow work from home permanently for their employees even after offices are open.
Employees aren’t so sure they need or want to go back to the way things worked pre-pandemic. A recent survey by WeWork indicates that most workers expect to continue working from home at least part of the time. Since studies have proved that productivity has not been negatively impacted, this is a valid expectation. In addition, with the flexibility of working from home employees became more productive, engaged, and loyal. They see that as a great reason that WFA should continue indefinitely.
What might this mean for hiring in the post COVID era? Especially in sectors where talent is scarce, it may mean offering WFA and flexibility as a job perk. Millennials are particularly intent on work-life balance, flexibility, and freedom from the trappings of a traditional office. Women, who have been particularly hard hit by the child care transitions brought about by the pandemic, are demanding flexibility to better integrate childcare and care for elderly or sick family members into their lives.
The environment has seen benefits from WFA, too. Employees who no longer commute to an office 5 days a week help reduce greenhouse emissions. This ideal is a draw for top talent. Millennials, again, are most often interested in a company’s carbon impact and prefer to work for companies with a track record of helping to mitigate climate change. The Work from Anywhere trend ties in with lessening the overall carbon footprint of a business.
COVID restrictions have demanded pivots and changes in the way employers deal with their workers. Job candidates now are asking what kind of pivots a company made to accommodate their employees during the height of the lockdowns. A company that can outline how they were flexible and creative with their employees and took their well-being into account will get the attention of top talent.
Employees have taken advantage of the work from anywhere trend that exploded during the pandemic lockdowns. Some moved, others just hunkered down and benefitted from zero commute and the flexibility of working when it was better for them. These perks won’t disappear without a fight, and if a company decided to fight, they may find that recruiting top talent becomes more challenging. Companies that embrace a more hybrid model may find that top talent is interested in working with them regardless of other perks.
It remains to be seen how this unintended experiment plays out, but it certainly won’t be business as usual moving forward. If you have seen trends in your ability to attract and hire great talent as a result of your version of this experiment, let us know in the comments.