Telework Option – Stay or Go?

July 7, 2020

Should Your Company Keep Its Telework Option?

Across America, states, cities and counties are gradually easing stay-at-home orders and expanding the industries that can now reopen their doors or return to work on premises. After months of teleworking, many employees will soon find themselves able to return to the office: it’s just that not all of them may want to. Whether it’s due to continued fears of COVID-19 exposure or simply because they prefer it, many workers have found that remote work suits them for the time being.

The question then falls to the employer: should remote work be allowed to continue, even when the office reopens? If so, should it be under the ad hoc coronavirus policy, or a new, more robust one? How will an office split between remote workers and on-premises staff operate? If your organization is asking these types of questions, read on for an exploration of how other businesses are handling this issue.

Where The Majority Stand

According to a survey of 1,000 businesses, conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the global advisory firm Oxford Economics, all but five percent of the companies reported that they expect their workforce to return to pre-crisis levels within six months. Clearly, they believe the temporary transition to remote work has been just that: temporary.

But these companies may be underestimating just how much the American workforce will shift in the New Normal. The ability to work remotely was already a popular job benefit before COVID-19. Post pandemic, its popularity has soared. In an article for, SHRM CEO Johnny C. Taylor reports that the debate of remote work not being viable for most companies has ended on a definitive note. “Before the pandemic there were always managers who claimed that this job or that job could never be done remotely,” says Taylor. “Now, they can’t say that because it’s working. And not for a week because of a hurricane, but for months now.”

As the American job market continues to recover, it’s more likely than not the workers will prefer positions that have a robust teleworking policy. So despite most businesses imagining a return to normalcy, in reality it may be smarter to keep what’s now one of the most prized job benefits on the market.

An Office Divided

Some employers balk at the idea of operating an office where a significant number of employees are working off-premises—in reality, many successful organizations have been managing a balance of on- and off-site staff long before COVID-19. Day-to-day tasks like meetings can (usually) be replaced with video conferencing software and other remote working tools, but the larger difficulties lie in managing these two different groups. Remote workers face different challenges than in-office ones: their workday tends to blend into their free time, and while that can mean more productivity, it also increases their risk of burnout.

It’s not impossible or unfeasible to manage an office that’s a mix of a telework option/remote and in-office workers. But managers will need to take into consideration how to juggle these two different types of employees.

Should Your Company Keep Its Telework Option?

There isn’t a simple formula for determining whether or not your organization should keep its remote work policy once employees return to the office. It depends on a myriad of factors: industry, specific position, team structure, and even office culture. But as we head forward into the New Normal, remote work will continue to grow in popularity. It’s just one of the ways COVID-19 has forever changed the business world.

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