The Work From Home Revolution is underway and here to stay

Thursday, June 18th 2020

Closing our three Serbian offices in mid-March, before the COVID-19 outbreak had really begun to take hold, signaled the start of our transition to a largely remote company.

We were closing our offices on a temporary basis, it was a practical common-sense based move to protect our staff from potential infection.

We quickly put together a COVID-19 committee to write our working from home policy and best practices for the few people who still had to visit the office.

We set up all of our staff with equipment they needed to work from home effectively, and soon our whole business was running 99% remotely.

What we found was that a well-oiled machine was a well-oiled machine, remote or not. Super-professional teams did not become any less so because of their working environment.

3 months later we carried out a company-wide survey to take the temperature regarding long-term working from home, going back to the office, and having a flexible option that included both.

We didn’t have fixed expectations of what we were going to see. Although it’s fair to say we probably didn’t expect to see so few of our people wanting to go back to the office on a full-time basis.

When all the results were in, it turned out that only 7% were keen on a full-time return to the office, with the remaining 93% almost evenly split between exclusively working from home (47.5%) and the flexible working option (45.5%).

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Advantages of working from home, and why there will be  an explosion of work from home jobs

We can see the advantages of working from home from three prisms - how it benefits the individual, the company, and wider society.

And when you lay out the advantages in a structured way like this, it seems almost impossible not to conclude that there will be an explosion in work from home jobs over the coming months and years.

For the individual, there are a multitude of benefits, especially related to their overall health and wellbeing and relationships with their family and friends:

  • More precious family time

  • No need to commute - taking out one of the most stressful parts of life

  • No transportation costs

  • No need to buy lunch or prepare one in advance every day

  • More time for hobbies, being present in the community, etc.

  • More time for fitness, self-care (up to 25 days a year saved from commuting) 

Ultimately, it is executives that are going to be the ones who push through transitions to work from home. 

But there are heaps of compelling arguments in its favor. It’s not a coincidence that Twitter, Facebook, Shopify, and Upwork have all made major moves to permanent work from home options over recent weeks.

Their people teams have run detailed cost-benefit analyses and concluded that the cons are by far outweighed by the pros:

  • Fresher, happier, more energetic teams

  • Truly flexible working patterns to reflect unique and diverse employee needs

  • Massively reduced office expenses

  • Potentially reduced payroll due to being able to hire globally

  • The room for employees to work in isolation allows for deep work in which - creativity can flourish

  • Sharpens the focus on more useful KPIs (productivity and output) as opposed to the less useful (time spend in the office)

  • Companies that don’t transition will be left behind as;

    • Top talent is snapped up by companies with flexible options

    • Their expenses will be higher than competitors’ as their talent pool grows shallower and narrower.

Long-term, the work from home revolution is going to have a major impact on wider society. 

As well as the obvious reduction in pollution levels and environmental degradation that we have already witnessed over the last 3 months, we’re likely to see trends towards;

  • Less crowded roads - cycling could explode

  • Greater public transport use (when the pandemic is under control) as car ownership falls

  • More even geographical distribution of talent

  • Reduced inequality as better paid jobs become more evenly distributed

  • Reduced brain drain as the top talent as less likely to need to emigrate to find the best work opportunities

  • Increased health, fitness, and wellbeing as people recalibrate their work-life balance.

Of these, the growth in health and fitness might be the most interesting.

The demand for fitness, yoga and group sports classes will grow

Alongside our staff survey on working preferences, we also ran a parallel external survey diving into changes in consumer behavior and trends as a result of the COVID-19 shift to working from home.

The results of this pointed towards a huge demand for online fitness, yoga, and group sports classes. 63% of our 100 respondents cited this as a service they would now be interested in, as well as 25% who expressed a new interest in online health services.

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There was increased demand for grocery home deliveries (38%) and coding classes. Respectively, these probably reflect desires to avoid potentially busy public places as much as possible and to upskill in an in-demand field for work from home jobs.   

Another interesting finding that CEOs (both moving industry and non-moving industry) could harness to increase productivity and output, as well as employee well-being, was the distribution in how respondents described themselves when given the options of a morning person, afternoon person, and night person.

The split was almost even with 36% of respondents describing themselves as morning people, 33% as afternoon, and 31% as night. This gels with academics who suggest that the conservatism driving many employers’ regular working hours may unnecessarily hamper the productivity of almost ⅓ of their workforce. 

There will always be jobs that require a fixed 8 or 9 to 5 or 6 schedule but, for those that don’t, employers would do well to let their teams work during their most productive hours. And this once again sharpens the focus on productivity and output as KPIs rather than start and end time.

How we are changing the way we work at Shyft

At Shyft we are using these findings to make sure employees have the working option that best suits their lifestyle, productivity, and comfort.

We still have office space, but the vast majority of our team are not obliged to be there. 

We recently started recruitment for remote Video Surveyor and 3D Video Estimator roles, and we expect adverts for similar remote work opportunities to skyrocket.

We have seen the demand for video surveys snowball, as a lot of the best moving companies have started using virtual surveys exclusively for their moving estimates.

The WFH revolution has been a catalyst for this development, and we expect the increased demand to be a long-term change.

As Twitter and Facebook lead the way from the global giants very publically, thousands of SMEs, contractors, and more are quietly joining the WFH revolution, which will not be televised.