Remote work, or work from home (WFH), is fast becoming the representative of the “New Normal” during these COVID-19 times and beyond. WFH, though, is not a new phenomenon. Even before the pandemic struck, in America alone, 4.7 million people were already working remotely.
That’s about 3.4 percent of the country’s workforce. This figure doubled at the height of the pandemic as companies worldwide made, what was originally perceived to be, a temporary shift to WFH.
However, in the year that they have allowed their employees WFH status, many leading companies have seen that remote work can work for them, and in fact has been proving more beneficial for the long term.
Here are the Top 10 companies that are switching to “Remote First” or permanent work from home.
In an announcement in their blog which was reported by CNBC, Australian software company Atlassian announced that they are allowing a permanent shift to WFH for their employees, even though they won’t be shutting down their offices.
Instead of measuring work hours, Atlassian aims to measure work outputs and performance among their employees.
The business communication platform Slack is not only giving majority of their employees the option to switch to WFH status permanently. They are also planning to increase their hiring of remote workers.
Part of their Remote First strategy is also to renovate their offices with fewer workers, marked by reduction of amenities like coffee bars and catered lunches, fewer in-person meetings, and greater focus on individual work.
Credit card startup company Brex made the announcement of a Remote First shift in an email dated August of last year.
While offices in major cities will remain open, employers and employees will primarily be telecommuting with company relationship building activities and team events to be conducted every two months.
The main concern for the Brex shift is that employees’ salaries are based on location, so employees who relocate to different areas may expect changes in their compensations.
Current employees who relocate prior to September 2021 may not expect these compensation charges to change until September 2024.
Quora, the popular Q&A website, announced their shift to WFH following a survey of their employees, noting that 60 percent prefer WFH after COVID-19.
Plans are now in place to convert their head office in Mountain View, California into a co-working space for their employees who want to do work in the office. The primary requirement is that employees attend all video conferences.
The site for online freelancers has decided to go full Remote First in May. Ironically, Upwork has enabled global employers to find remote talents from all over the world even prior to the pandemic.
With most of their employees choosing permanent WFH, insurance company Nationwide has announced the closure of their smaller offices in the U.S. while retaining the operations of their four corporate offices in Central Ohio, Des Moines, San Antonio, and Scottsdale.
7. Twitter and Square
Both of these companies owned by CEO Jack Dorsey made the permanent switch to WFH for the majority of their employees just two months into the pandemic.
Only those employees whose physical presence is required in their offices (like those who are in charge of the servers).
The cryptocurrency exchange platform Coinbase announced their adoption of a Remote First scenario in their company.
They are providing their employees the option to work remotely, especially for those positions that don’t require physical presence in the office, or remain in the office.
Facebook has announced that 50 percent of their workforce can switch to WFH permanently. The other 50 percent can continue remote work until July 2021.
The company will also begin accepting applications for WFH as well as increase their remote hires for the future.
The e-commerce platform Shopify announced the continued closure of their offices until 2021 to give them a makeover for remote work.
Upon completion, most of their employees will be working from home permanently.
What Does This Switch Tell Us
While the switch to remote work was ultimately forced by the COVID-19 crisis, employers’ experiences with their employees on WFH status have largely alleviated their fears of poor productivity. In fact, remote work has brought with it a number of key benefits.
1) Greater productivity
A Global Workplace Analytics study showed that WFH employees are 35 to 40 percent more productive than their in-office colleagues due to their longer work hours. In fact, $600 billion is lost by businesses yearly from workplace distractions alone.
Part of the reason for the increased productivity among workers is the elimination of the daily commute which already tires them out before they even get to their workplaces.
2) Less office space means greater savings
Because of WFH, many companies no longer require large physical office spaces. This means savings on leases if they are renting office space. Companies who have their own buildings are either selling these properties which they no longer use or renting them out to other organizations
Of course, WFH also comes with a few challenges that employers need to address.
1) Performance management
With employees adopting a flexible WFH schedule, a shift has to be made from focusing on number of hours worked to focusing on work outcomes and outputs.
Employers may need to use employee management tools, such as TransparentBusiness, Time Doctor, and Timely, to monitor employee performance.
There is also the recommendation for the creation of a new position, Director of Remote Work, for individuals who can oversee all aspects of remote work, including employee performance and collaboration and operational efficiency.
2) Improve engagement
Remote employees need to demonstrate greater engagement if they are to promote the work that they do and achieve the advances in position they desire.
Instead of just limiting collaborations through email, video conferences and virtual events not only improve engagement but can also help in maintaining morale and high spirits among WFH employees.
3) Improve cybersecurity
One important aspect of WFH that employers need to consider is cybersecurity. This does not only involve ensuring the security of stored data, communications, and finances.
It also involves teaching employees the vital cybersecurity skills which they must practice at home. This would include how to make strong passwords, being vigilant of phishing and hacking attempts, among others.
With WFH on the fast track of becoming a part of the “new normal”, companies should already make initial assessments on the specific roles that can be accomplished at home while making the necessary preparations in their cyber infrastructure to ensure total security.
If you’re looking for other resources on working from home, be sure to check out our Complete Guide To Working From Home to get you started!