The work from home (WFH) arrangement trend started a number of years ago but the COVID-19 pandemic jump-started it. Many workers believed their WFH arrangements, which were implemented in response to social distancing requirements, were temporary. And, in fact, some companies are bringing workers back into the office as the pandemic recedes. Yet, others are keeping WFH arrangements in place.
As organizations have recognized how WFH jobs can boost productivity, enhance employee satisfaction, and help them reduce overhead costs, many of them are keeping jobs as WFH positions, and hiring more freelancers who also typically work from home. And it’s not just tech jobs. Companies in the automotive, finance, marketing, consulting, education, and other industries are embracing this mode of operations.
Here, BairesDev explores the WFH workforce, including its benefits and the positions for which it works best.
Workers Like WFH
WFH jobs are good for business for a variety of reasons. One is that many employees really like working from home. According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, more than half (54%) of employed adults whose work can be done remotely want to work from home post-pandemic. And among employed adults currently working from home, the vast majority reported that transitioning to a WFH arrangement has been very or somewhat easy.
The same study found that 89% of those already working from home are doing so because they prefer it and that most workers have seen little change in many aspects of their work. These employees also appreciate the greater flexibility that comes with working from home.
Even aspects of WFH positions that might seem problematic actually aren’t. The Pew Research Center study found that 63% of workers who use video conferencing tools often are fine with the amount of time they spend on them, and 65% of teleworkers view video conferencing and instant messaging platforms as a good substitute for in-person contact. Apparently the fabled “Zoom fatigue” hasn’t yet set in or is not actually something employers need to be concerned about.
Some employees that started working from home during the pandemic are even unwilling to go back to the office, preferring to quit their jobs if forced to do so. Given these data and the potential for greater employee satisfaction, employers are wise to transition more positions to WFH.
Another benefit to employers of offering WFH jobs is consistent — and sometimes even enhanced — productivity. In situations in which workers are provided with the tools they need, some may even be more productive at home than they are at an office. This is especially true in sectors in which a WFH arrangement is most feasible, such as administrative support, real estate, arts, entertainment, and recreation.
Salespeople in particular have an opportunity to be more productive in a WFH situation due to the nature of their work. A salesperson who might drive to visit 5 potential customers in a day can double their efforts if their visits take place via less time-intensive teleconferencing.
The following video highlights additional benefits of a WFH model:
Tech and Beyond
In addition to the technology sector, WFH jobs are available in accommodation, food services, agriculture, construction, mining, utilities, transportation, warehousing, and other industries. The following companies are just a few that have switched to long-term remote work:
- Amazon. Obviously, not all jobs done at Amazon can be done from home (think warehouse workers) but employees performing jobs that can be done remotely may work from home.
- American Express. The financial giant is allowing employees in roles like managers and business analysts to work from home.
- HubSpot. This worldwide marketing platform company gives employees options to work from home all or part of the time.
- Nationwide Insurance. One of the nation’s oldest insurance agencies, Nationwide has transitioned to a hybrid work model that combines working from home and at the office.
- Siemens. This global electrical engineering and electronics corporation is allowing a portion of its employees to work from home two or three days per week.
- Twitter. The social media platform in 2020 famously told employees they could permanently work from home.
- Verizon. The global communications company headquartered in New York offers a variety of remote work options depending on job requirements.
Freelance Demand Grows
As companies have seen how flexible they can be with a variety of WFH arrangements, they’re including freelance workers in that mix. Freelancers are self-employed and typically take on projects with numerous clients. They can temporarily help fill vacancies within companies, take on overflow work for teams from time to time, or function as part of a group that needs someone with specialized skills.
A recent study from Upwork found that total spending on freelancers among large non-tech companies grew by 44.2% from 2019 to 2020. A surprising number of those hires were in industries commonly thought to require team members to work onsite, including utilities, mining, quarrying, manufacturing, healthcare, retail, and even construction.
Jobs in marketing, communications, administration, and programming in these industries can easily be done remotely. Given the number of these positions within companies across fields, the potential for both full-time workers and freelancers to work from home is great.
WFH arrangements clearly have benefits for employers. In addition to employee satisfaction and consistent or even greater productivity, companies can save big on the overhead costs required to maintain an office environment.
But there can be disadvantages too. Many employers prefer to have workers within easy reach to bounce ideas around, collaborate, and create the synergy that only comes when people gather together in person.
In terms of whether to continue WFH arrangements, there’s no one right answer. While many jobs will continue to be performed remotely, each business will need to determine whether such an approach makes sense for them as the pandemic recedes.