Working From Home is Here to Stay

by Ricoh Malaysia23 Jun 2021

Working from home (WFH) is a trend that isn't going away anytime soon. According to a recent study, 20% of full workdays will be performed from home in the future, compared to only 5% before the epidemic.

When COVID-19 shuttered workplaces early last year, millions of people throughout the world were forced to work from their living rooms, kitchen tables, and beds.

Despite early setbacks, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) in the United States forecasts that the WFH trend will continue due to advantages for both employees and businesses.

Here are reasons why the work from home trend is here to stay.

  1. WFH experiences are better than expected

    The pandemic sparked a hasty trial in WFH, prompting decision-makers to reorganize working arrangements.

    Previous opposition to WFH, such as concerns about decreased productivity, the costs of experimentation, and coordination problems within networks, was brushed aside by the urgent need to safeguard employees and society as a whole.

    Respondents to the National Bureau of Economic Research's Survey of Working Arrangements and Attitudes (SWAA) reported better-than-expected WFH experiences and increased productivity.

    When compared to their pre-COVID-19 expectations for home-working productivity, 20.6 percent of those questioned said it was hugely better than expected, 21.9 percent said it was substantially better, and 17 percent said it was better.

    Only 13.9 percent of respondents claimed it was worse, while 26.7 percent said it was about the same.

    On average, respondents had better-than-expected experiences working from home, implying excessive pre-pandemic pessimism about WFH.

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  2. Smart meeting rooms are gaining more attention

    From the days of a static, digital whiteboard, collaboration and unified communications devices have gone a long way. They've evolved into interactive whiteboards, immersive, collaborative technologies that engage and interact with in-person and remote meeting participants.

    More businesses and people are becoming aware of smart meeting room technology and are making significant investments.

    Meeting planners are also using solutions that enable smoothly bringing together both remote and in-person team members to boost productivity and long-term success for their businesses. With all these set up in place, it's obvious that WFH is here to stay.

  3. Increased investments in physical and human capital that enable WFH

    According to SWAA data, the average US employee has invested 15 hours and $561 on home equipment to assist WFH, equal to 0.7 percent of yearly GDP.

    COVID-19 also led to the fast improvement of equipment and back-end systems, including smart offices and smart conference rooms, that enable WFH by businesses and other organizations.

    As a result of these expenditures, both companies and employees are now in a far better position to effectively remote work.

  4. The reduced stigma associated with WFH

    Before COVID-19, working from home was commonly connected with shirking, with one pre-pandemic research predicting that production was 12 percent lower among those chosen for WFH.

    Following the onset of the pandemic, SWAA respondents reported increased attitudes of home-working among some, most, or all “people you know.”

    Only 28.3 percent said their view had not changed, and only 6.6 percent said it had deteriorated.

  5. Concerns about crowds and risks of spread of the virus

    Only 28% of respondents said they planned to return to pre-pandemic activities if a COVID-19 vaccine became widely available, according to the study.

    The others stated that they will be careful about activities such as indoor eating, subway commuting, and ride-sharing.

    The NBER predicts that residual concerns about being close to other individuals would increase demand for the ability to WFH.

  6. The surge in technological innovations that support WFH during the pandemic

    According to the research, between January and September 2020, US patent applications developing WFH technology more than quadrupled, exceeding the previous high point.

    According to the NBER, such advancements are anticipated to encourage a broader shift toward WFH even after the pandemic is over.COVID-19 also spurred innovation among regulators, increasing virtual consultations for health and social professionals.

    WFH might become more feasible for healthcare workers if rules stay supportive of online services, according to the research.

In a Nutshell

According to the NBER research, working from home will have three significant implications. It claims that increased remote working will benefit employees, particularly those who are more educated and make more money.

According to the NBER, the post-pandemic economy will see a 5% productivity gain owing to re-optimized working arrangements and reduced time spent on travelling.

However, the shift to more home-based labour is predicted to harm major city centres, with direct expenditure expected to fall by at least 5-10% compared to pre-pandemic levels.