Remote Work Wave Gains Even More Momentum

Working from Home

The spread of the coronavirus continues, and employers continue to adapt even though the rules of business and community seem to change every day. Still, even though U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams predicts that “this week, it’s going to get bad,” a number of organizations continue to insist workers report to their offices.

Speaking on NBC’s Today Show, Adams said people help spread the virus when they leave home of unnecessary reasons.

As more states implement stay-at-home directives, the number of employees required to show up physically for work is bound to shrink. But as of Thursday, Bloomberg reported that many companies still require employees to work in-person, even when their jobs might be done remotely. In some cases, businesses decide for themselves who’s essential and who’s not. In others, executives are determined to keep their business up and running, despite any risk.

Even as more states impose stay-at-home directives, some companies still require employees to work in-person. That’s going to change – soon. #HRTech #HR Share on X

For example, LivWell Enlightened Health, a cannabis retailer in Colorado, remained open last week because, in the  words of one executive, closing “will kill us,” Bloomberg said. Sales at the company’s stores have risen dramatically, but even back-office and production workers are required to be on-site.

The decision to keep facilities open can be a difficult one, especially for businesses that rely on foot traffic or face-to-face interaction with customers. One healthcare provider in the UK reportedly required workers to come in even though they had to jury rig safety precautions, such as sneeze guards for use when working with patients. After employees expressed concern, the company offered them a furlough at 85 percent salary, as directed by the country’s government.

Working Out the Kinks

Although the proportion of remote workers has been steadily increasing in recent years, it still represents less than a third of the workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2017-2018, just 24.8 percent of U.S. workers did their jobs from home, the BLS said.

And while the coronavirus has promoted unprecedented numbers of businesses to urge or require employees to work remotely, many are struggling to pivot. Some have rushed through policies that left their workforce confused or were applied inconsistently. Others have yet to implement security solutions.

As these challenges are addressed, and more employers adopt working from home as a way to keep their business going, most business technology industry leaders expect the realignment of who-works-from-where to become long-lasting.

“There is now no choice but to have a work-from-home plan, said Alex Konanykhin, CEO of TransparentBusiness, a software company in New York that advises companies on off-site work.

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