Saying that the pandemic reshaped how people view work is a massive understatement. This is particularly true when it comes to the widespread introduction of remote work.
Many companies had little choice but to turn to telecommuting, allowing them to navigate shelter-in-place orders. Often, this was coupled with a higher degree of flexibility, especially for employees that were caring for children who were learning remotely or juggling similar challenges.
Since the pandemic wore on for far longer than many people expected, remote work wasn’t just a short-term solution; it quickly became a norm. As a result, employees’ attitudes have shifted dramatically, not always for the better.
Here’s a look at how remote work changed employees’ attitudes over time.
Returning to the Office Became Unappealing
Before the pandemic, remote work wasn’t unheard of, but it certainly wasn’t the norm. As a result, many professionals were content to head to offices, as it was primarily their only option.
Today, professionals understand that working from home is plausible. Additionally, some found they were more productive and had better work-life balance. Couple that with significant investments to create workable home offices, and the idea of going back to the office grew increasingly unappealing.
Overall, around 40 percent of professionals are unhappy with the idea of heading back to a traditional workplace, and a mere 15 percent want to work from an office full-time. As a result, some pain points are emerging.
In certain cases, professionals are effectively demanding remote work arrangements. With it being a candidate’s market, many who feel strongly about continuing to work from home view a lack of telecommuting as a dealbreaker, regardless of what else an employer may bring to the table.
As a result, some professionals are missing out on exceptional career-boosting opportunities. Plus, it’s based on the assumption that remote work is inherently better, causing them to overlook the benefits of a workplace, such as easier collaboration and a sense of community, most of which is harder to secure when telecommuting.
Employees Increasingly Expect Employers to Handle Remote Work Costs
The question regarding who was responsible for certain remote work costs was difficult to answer during the pandemic. The transition occurred so quickly that many companies simply didn’t have the means to do more than provide the basics. Additionally, most households already had certain areas covered, like internet.
As time marched on, many professionals began to shift their views regarding financial responsibilities related to remote work. A full 71 percent believe that employers should provide at-home office equipment, and 55 percent feel that companies should pay a portion of their internet bills.
For companies, this can lead to significantly higher costs. Many types of work equipment – such as printers and scanners – are typically shared in a workplace, so purchasing one for every remote employee could be financially implausible. Additionally, whether subsidizing internet bills is appropriate is hotly debated, particularly if employees already have access to suitable speeds and unlimited plans.
Ultimately, this creates another potential pain point. Asserting that companies should cover certain costs can become a dealbreaker for employers who don’t have room in their budgets. It could also lead to wage declines, as some organizations may have little choice but to cut salaries as a means of keeping their total costs manageable.
Debates About Employer Tracking
Another issue that arose during the pandemic focused on whether employers should have the right to track employee activities on company-owned devices. While 51 percent felt it wasn’t inappropriate, 30 percent disagreed that employers had a right to monitor them on their work devices.
Since questions about productivity are a common influencer when it comes to employee tracking, this may feel like a non-negotiable for companies. However, some professionals are adamant that it’s an invasion of privacy, even if they don’t own the devices.
Again, this creates a point of contention, one with significant consequences. Concerns about productivity and the state of company-provided assets are often legitimate. Plus, alternative approaches to employee monitoring – such as regular meetings – could be disruptive.
Ultimately, shifting employee attitudes are having an impact, and it isn’t always for the better. That’s why remaining open-minded is a must, as it allows you to tap into more opportunities that could further your career.
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