Will remote working die? Is remote work dying? Will everyone return to the office?
These are questions I’ve seen pop up much more. And the rhetoric from high-level executives and even the media pushing against remote work is interesting to watch.
Naturally, everyone is entitled to their opinion. And not everyone will love remote work. But at the same time, the concept of working remotely is not going to vanish.
A study from McKinsey & Company found that 87% of employees who were offered remote work took the opportunity. And that study also showed that flexible work options are a top motivating factor for finding a new job.
So why is there a push against remote work? And why is this work arrangement actually here to stay?
Why is Remote Working an Issue for Some?
There have been plenty of quotes from executives of well-known companies and other public figures pushing back against remote work.
Here are a few you may have seen in the news or on social media:
- David Solomon, Goldman Sachs CEO
- James Gorman, Morgan Stanley CEO
- Reed Hastings, Netflix Co-Founder/CEO
- Malcolm Gladwell, Author, Public Speaker
And even other journalists have pushed back against remote work too. There have been a few media blitzes in 2022 touting how bad working remotely is for everyone.
If I put on my conspiracy hat for a minute here, the number of negative articles in a row seemed pretty coordinated. But I’ll leave it at that! 🙃
It seems some companies and their leaders are afraid that employees have more say in “when” and “how” they work. There certainly has been a shift in the workplace over time and more so as younger generations start their careers.
But why does it seem some executives push against remote work so much? Why do some managers also seem to hate remote work?
There are a few reasons overall. And yes a few have some merit, but other reasons are just complete misconceptions or bad takes. It’s fairly easy to spot those latter ones.
Here are the issues some have with remote work:
- Claims of a loss of social interaction and innovation by not being in the office.
- Lack of control and sense of what people are working on.
- It takes some initial extra work to set up remote workers successfully.
- Hurting their pockets due to expensive office buildings and rent.
- Remote workers are lazy and productivity will completely decline.
- Claims it stifles employees’ careers or ability to grow professionally.
Why Remote Work Will Not Die
A vast majority of people who became remote workers during the pandemic, want to stay remote. I mean, look at the pushback Apple received on their deadline for remote employees to return.
While some remote employees may take advantage of these situations and not be productive, the vast majority are still doing amazing work. And if you have lazy coworkers slacking off remotely, it becomes pretty obvious who the culprits are.
Beyond that, remote employees are reaping numerous benefits like:
- Better mental and physical health.
- Able to spend more time with family.
- Improve finances by not commuting every day.
- More happy and satisfied with their work and employer.
- Increase productivity and creativity in their own workspace.
- Better overall work-life balance and reduced stress.
Is it any shock why employees want to remain remote or that more are interested in working from home? And the other thing is remote work benefits companies too, like:
- Increased productivity and employee engagement.
- Saves money from expensive offices and utilities.
- Access to a wider talent pool that lives throughout the world.
- Employees tend to take less sick leave when working remotely.
- Less turnover and increased retention of current employees.
- Improves the environmental impact.
The good thing is, that people and companies can decide whether they want to embrace remote work or not. While I personally support remote work, I think hybrid or completely in-office should be options too.
For some reason, many strongly against remote or hybrid work think every person just needs to be in the office five days a week.
But why can’t flexible options co-exist? Why can’t companies choose what they prefer to be their work model? I’m in the camp that not every company can or needs to be remote. But let’s not pretend remote work success is an impossible feat either.
And even some of the other FAANG companies with their hip offices, have relaxed their stances on remote work a bit. Most are operating more in a hybrid model or mixing in some completely remote jobs.
Remote work is here to stay
The stats don’t lie, people are still heavily interested in remote work or having options to occasionally work remotely.
- The results of the McKinsey survey showed that not only is flexible work popular, with 80 million Americans engaging in it (when the survey results are extrapolated to the wider population), but many want to work remotely for much of the week when given the choice.
- Remote opportunities leaped from under 4% of all high-paying jobs before the pandemic to about 9% at the end of 2020 and to more than 15% today
- 4.5 million employees voluntarily quit their jobs in November 2021 alone as evidence that the American workforce is waking up to their collective bargaining power, and hard-nosed employers are getting left behind in the dust
- 50% of surveyed employees would gladly take a pay cut just to have the option of continuing to work remotely.
- According to Buffer, 97% of people recommend remote work to others. If you take a look at their data from previous years, you’ll see this number fluctuating by only a percent or two. Coincidentally, 97% of remote employees want to continue working remotely until the end of their careers
And companies going remote has long started before the Covid-19 Pandemic, with more companies going forward with flexible options. Take a look at the Top 100 companies hiring remotely, for example.
Without question, flexible work is here to stay and remote work is not going away. Even if some out-of-touch executives claim it will fade away or that working remotely will die.
The demand from workers may be higher than companies supporting it, but remote jobs have become more common than ever. And I don’t see this stopping anytime soon.
Can Remote Work Replace the Office in the Future?
No, remote working will never fully replace going to an office in the future. There are still many jobs that cannot be done remotely. And there are also workers who prefer to go to the office or have the option of working in the office a few days a week.
And, I’m all for various options! As much as I love remote work and won’t go back to an office, it’s understandable that it’s not for everyone.
Instead, companies need to recognize that flexible work arrangements and better employee perks and benefits are key to attracting and retaining talent.
Job seekers have more power to choose where and how they want to work than ever before. So the organizations that quickly understand this and remove outdated thinking, the better it is for their company.
Remote work is definitely not going to die anytime soon.
Certainly, some executives and media organizations will continue to claim otherwise. As much as their opinions may have some interesting points, remote work can still co-exist and thrive.
Anytime I see the arguments for it not working, I point to innovative companies like GitLab, Buffer, Doist, Zapier, Automattic, and Basecamp who’ve been fully remote for YEARS. And all are successfully running and growing their businesses with global employees.
Companies can thrive in a remote work environment, there are just different processes and needs to set things up successfully. And maybe that’s where some hesitation factors in – fear of the unknown.
While the need and excitement might slow down after the COVID-19 Pandemic, many workers discovered the positive influence working from home has on their lives and work happiness.
And those talented folks who like working remotely will gladly find a new job that offers this work arrangement.