LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – From Zoom meetings to home offices, the coronavirus pandemic has dramatically changed the way we do business, and study after study has shown that a majority of American workers don’t want to lose that flexibility once the pandemic is over.
A recent Bloomberg study found that nearly 40% of workers surveyed would quit their jobs if they were forced to work full-time in the office.
Before the pandemic, Jackie Purcell, a mother of two, commuted five days a week from Granada Hills to Brentwood for her job at a commercial real estate company.
“Oh my God, I would usually leave here around 5:15 am, and it only took me 25 or 30 minutes,” Purcell told CBS2’s Kristine Lazar. “I was training and preparing there, and I was missing my morning commute. But my way back can take an hour and 20 (minutes), an hour and 45. “
It robbed her of quality time with her children.
“Our evenings just become this bedtime race,” Purcell said.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March 2020, Purcell switched to working from home full time. She is now back in the office three days a week and works from home the other two. She says she needs to be in the office to collaborate with coworkers, but enjoys having a hybrid schedule.
“With kids and more responsibilities, more appointments to run, more laundry, I like having the flexibility,” Purcell said.
This flexibility was much harder to find before the pandemic.
“So a lot of employers were reluctant to move to a fully remote workforce, mainly because there were trust issues,” said Patricia Grabarek, assistant professor of sociology at USC.
Grabarek, co-founder of Workr Beeing, which helps companies achieve well-being at work, says many employers found the opposite to be true when offices closed.
“So research shows that many employees can be much more productive when they’re at home,” Grabarek said. “They are able to focus and create an environment that is conducive to the way they like to work. And research for decades has shown that if we allow employees to have autonomy over how they do their jobs and flexibility in their schedules, they are much more likely to be happy at their jobs.
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A recent Glassdoor study found that the number of people looking for remote work jumped 460% from June 2019 to June 2021. And if they offer remote work, employers can broaden their job search. to those who are not in the state. They can also save money. That’s part of the reason global recruiting firm Aquent decided to let its leases expire across the country, including the Los Angeles and Orange offices.
“We realized that we were wasting a lot of money on real estate and overhead costs which could be better spent by investing in our people,” said Erin Bloom of Aquent.
The pandemic has shown employers that you don’t have to be in the office to be productive.
“We’re finding that people are actually more productive,” Bloom added. “They have more time to work, they don’t commute. It really comes down to great leadership and the confidence of your employees to get the job done, get the job done, and focus more on results than clocking in the time in an office.
However, there are limits to this productivity, according to a study just published by Microsoft. The tech giant has found that remote working is hampering its innovation and communication among its more than 60,000 employees.
“And so, the job of employers now is to try to find a way to create this community, to create mechanisms of collaboration with people wherever they are,” said Elizabeth Bille, senior vice president of the workplace culture at Everfi.
Aquent, meanwhile, plans to use some of the money saved in rent to build the community.
“We have people who are interested in hiking the Appalachian Trail together, we have people who want to create a sailing team,” Bloom said. “There are a lot of different things. And we’ll be encouraging new, deliberate ways to connect that don’t necessarily mean working shoulder to shoulder on a cubicle farm.
Experts say the pandemic will leave a permanent mark on the way we do business long after it is over.
“It really inspired employers to reinvent where and when work is done and to provide more flexibility around the two,” Bille said.
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Experts say giving workers more flexibility will also help stem the tide of women leaving the workforce. Nearly three million women quit their careers in the first 13 months of the pandemic.