The following is an editorial from the Mankato Free Press.
For many employees, punching a clock would be like revisiting history.
Our smartphones, our laptops, our Fitbits report our work time all the time. And we can take those with us whenever and wherever we go to get our jobs done.
Employers not already using remote-work options before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic quickly learned that many of their workers could do their jobs from elsewhere. They had to. And they did.
About 71% of workers who are able to work remotely have been doing so during the past year, according to a Pew Research survey.
Many employers recognize the remote option is here to stay. And if they aren’t seeing that, they need to take a closer look at why it’s a solid idea for workplaces with office environments.
A recent survey from Harvard Business School Online shows, as the pandemic changed our lives, working remotely worked. Many professionals actually experienced advancement and growth.
And here’s something bosses need to take into consideration for planning purposes: The survey found that 81% of workers either don’t want to go back to the office or would prefer a hybrid schedule going forward.
Some local employers already have adapted to this revamped world of work. Consolidated Communications is looking to make remote working a permanent option for some office staff because the model proved itself during the past year. And the company is not alone. Others are recognizing the pluses of remote work, from less physical space needed to the flexibility that workers value.
For longtime employees, the benefits of remote work have been refreshing.
Now if a daytime emergency or errand needs attention and a work task can easily be delayed until evening hours, both tasks get the concentration they deserve.
Parents no longer have to feel as though they’re asking for special treatment or must take a sick day if they want to work from home to be near an ill child — removing the intense pressure to pick work loyalty over family needs.
And if a co-worker on a deadline wants a colleague to weigh in with feedback, they can meet instantly over Zoom whenever and wherever it works for both of them.
No doubt remote or hybrid work models made many people safer and more at ease during the pandemic; they could still make a living but took less risk by clocking hours in an environment under their own control.
In exchange for all those benefits, workers have no doubt missed office camaraderie, in-person communication and the boundaries of being done with work for the day when they leave the office. Not surprisingly, the Harvard study cited that working parents would rather return to the office than employees without children.
But the flexibility numerous workers needed and enjoyed while working remotely will be difficult for them to give up without experiencing job dissatisfaction. When people reach a balance in their lives, their work productivity as well as stress levels reflect satisfaction.
Saving commute time, eating when hungry, working at 2 a.m. when insomnia hits, walking the dog as a mental break between meetings are all part of a cultural shift for workers who were once led to believe that joining the professional world meant showing up at the office early and staying until the clock ticked away to the magical hour of 5 p.m.
Back in the day, it was believed the employees with the best work ethic were the first in the office and the last to leave — even when they weren’t always the most productive. That mode of thinking is as outdated as the 2020 calendar hanging on the wall of an empty office.
Republished with permission.
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