Don’t let work-from-home just happen in your organization

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Added on by 4 min read


While the Society for Human Resource Management reports that nearly 70% of companies offer work-from-home, the reality is that only 7% (Bureau of Labor Statistics data) make it available to all or most employees.

I call it the 7% privilege because our research shows it's largely employees at the upper end of the wage spectrum that get to do it.

Most organizations have let remote work happen rather than making it happen, and in doing so are failing to maximize the people, planet, and profit potential. (click to tweet)

According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) survey, over 60% of organizational leaders say they were unprepared for the overnight need to have their people work from home.

They admit they will pay the price in lost productivity and more...

Potential impact of work-from-home

There are a number of "players" to be impacted from this model.

The employer

For employers, remote work can help solve some of their most vexing problems. Aside from the obvious benefit of improving disaster preparedness, it can help them reduce costs in several ways:

  1. reducing the need for office space,
  2. increasing productivity,
  3. reducing turnover and absenteeism,
  4. enhancing engagement, and
  5. reducing employee stress.
In total, we estimate a typical organization will save about $11,000 per year for each employee who works remotely just half the time.

The employee

A typical employee can save between $2,500 and $4,000 by working from home half the time. Those savings come from a number of changes:

  1. reduced transportation costs,
  2. fewer food and beverage purchases,
  3. less dry cleaning, and
  4. less serendipitous spending for things like football pools, cookie drives, and the like.

More importantly, they can save the equivalent of eleven workdays a year by not having to commute.

And while working at home with a houseful of people and pets during COVID may not have been ideal, most people report working from home reduces their work-life conflict and stress. Even greater savings can be realized if, by working from home, people are able to live in more affordable areas, give up a second car, or reduce their auto insurance premiums.

The environment

The environment may be the biggest winner in remote work. In just a few short weeks of forced work-from-home during COVID, cities have reported dramatically cleaner air.

Our research shows half-time work-from-home could reduce greenhouse gases by the equivalent of taking the entire NY state workforce off the road. Even more savings may come from a reduction in office buildings and business travel.

The future of remote work

Even before COVID, leading companies were adopting work-from-anywhere strategies as a way to better attract and retain talent and reduce costs.

Post-COVID, they will likely continue to do so but for other reasons as well:

  • More employees will demand it
  • Fewer managers will fear it
  • Organizational leaders will realize the potential bottom-line benefits
  • Investors will insist on it for disaster preparedness

All will have seen just how big an impact it can have on the environment.

But offices are not going away anytime soon. All-remote staffing works for some organizations, but it’s not the norm. People like and even need to be around other people, but many will have learned it doesn’t need to be all the time.

The sweet spot for most is somewhere in the middle. A few days working in the office. A few days working at home. (click to tweet)

Not everyone wants to or can work from home, but many did before the crisis and many more will want to when it’s over. Some because they fear going back to work or using public transit to get there, others because they’ve found they like it.

Our forecast is that the pandemic will dramatically accelerate the work from trend and that by the end of 2021, 25% to 30% of the workforce will work from home more than one day a week.

It’s time for employers to embrace work-from-anywhere as part of the new normal. To maximize the people, planet, and profit potential, functional areas—HR, IT, Real Estate, Finance, Sustainability, Risk Management, and others—must work together toward a common goal of re-framing the who, what, when, where, and how of work in a post-COVID world.

What else can we learn?

There is much we can learn from this unfortunate crisis and we're inviting employees from around the world to help us do that by taking our Global Work-from-Home Experience Survey.


From the results, we will better understand the following:

  • Who’s working from home during the crisis,
  • What is and isn’t working for them,
  • The relationship between work-at-home effectiveness and organizational, technological, and employee readiness,
  • The potential impact regular work-from-home could have on employers, employees, and the environment, and
  • The extent to which employees want to continue to work from home as a proxy for the impact the crisis will have on commercial real estate.

The survey closes on April 24, 2020.

Results of the survey will be shared freely beginning in May. Stay tuned to Proxyclick for details.


About Kate Lister and Global Workplace Analytics

Kate Lister is a recognized thought leader on workplace, workforce, and other trends that are changing the who, what, when, where, and how of work. She is president of Global Workplace Analytics (GWA), a research-based consulting firm that has been helping public and private sector employers understand and implement new ways of working for more than a decade. She is considered a global expert on telecommuting and other flexible workplace trends, and is also a regular contributor to Proxyclick's Annual Workplace Trends series.

Kate's written or co-authored five books, numerous white papers, and dozens of articles. She is a trusted media source and has been quoted by hundreds of media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Washington Post.

About the Survey

The Global Work-From-Home Experience Survey was developed and will be analyzed by workplace thought leaders, Dr. Anita Kamouri  (Co-Founder of Iometrics), and Kate Lister (President of Global Workplace Analytics) at no charge to anyone. Both have been involved in work-from-home and strategic workplace research and consulting for more than a decade. 

The survey is being supported, through distribution to its members, by employers and industry associations around the world. I will remain open through April 24, 2020. The survey is GDPR-compliant. No personally identifiable information is being collected from respondents. Survey results with a minimum statistical confidence level of 95% (p<.05) will be publicly available at no cost.


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