The Colorado Chamber of Commerce this week hosted a virtual roundtable discussion with business executives and experts on the future of remote work. The event, titled “Can I Stay Working From Home?”, featured Sara Sutton from FlexJobs and Bhushan Sethi from PwC, and tackled key questions related to home-based work and productivity, office space, hybrid solutions, and challenges related to remote work in the age of COVID-19.
While working from home has become more common over the last 10-15 years, it has not traditionally been thought of as a benefit to employers. With the pandemic, much of the world has been forced into a global work from home situation. Thepandemic has been a real pivotal changing point in how the business world views working at home. Sutton and Bhushan emphasized that this experiment has proved that in the right circumstances, people and organizations can do a good job when employees work from home.
Remote and flexible options in the workplace are a desirable benefit for employees. Sethi pointed to a survey PwC recently conducted on 1,100 employees which found that 72% would like to work from home at least two days a week, even post-pandemic. One-third would like to work from home on a permanent basis. Sutton added that sometimes an office is not the best place for productivity. Flexjobs has done numerous surveys over the years of over 1,000 people, and over 80% said that when they had a very important project to do, they would be more productive if they did it in a place other than the office surrounded by co-workers and distractions.
Other key considerations from the roundtable discussion include:
- Situations and circumstances vary. Some jobs just can’t be done from home, but for those that can, it’s a great benefit to keep your employees as safe as possible.
- Despite some misconceptions, it is very possible for an entirely or partially remote organization have a sense of purpose and an excellent culture.
- For those hiring in a remote-work setting, it’s very important to carefully onboard new employees, especially new graduates. Communication and coaching is key, since they aren’t getting the in-office experience.
- Employers may reassess their real estate needs in the future, perhaps needing less. There may be a need for more technology for home offices, IT support, and technology training for employees.
- Whether we like it or not, this pandemic may go on for a while. It’s important for employers to check in with their employees and make an effort to be empathetic, personal, and inclusive in a remote-work environment.
About the Colorado Chamber Chair’s Roundtable: The Chair’s Roundtable is a select group of senior business leaders from Colorado Chamber member companies who care about how state government policies affect their business and who want to engage with topic experts and other business leaders in substantive dialogue about these policies. The group meets four times per year to discuss critical business and policy issues facing the Colorado business community.