America’s office workers have been miserable and burned out for a long time. The expectation of long hours at the office has been particularly hard on parents. Women, young people and people with disabilities have for years been among those on the forefront of pushing for more freedom in where work gets done.
Perhaps not surprisingly, employers have offered many reasons they cannot give people quite so much autonomy. People cannot be trusted to get their work done on their own, they have said.
Clients expect in-person, round-the-clock service. Running into coworkers in the hallway is sure to spur serendipitous ideas, right? And, people need to attend meetings, as well as meetings to prepare for those meetings and meetings to debrief after them.
But in the past few months, it has become clear to everyone what was really going on. Corporate America just did not want to change. “All these things could be done yesterday: This is the reality,” said a labor economist at the University of Michigan.
It is clear that America’s workers actually like the new way of doing things, even with the challenges of The Virus Chaos. In a recent poll of 1,123 people who have worked at home these past few months, representing the range of jobs, demographics and income levels of America’s remote workers, 86% said they were satisfied with remote work.
This chaos is not an ideal circumstance, which makes that number all the more surprising: Between sickness, job loss or the fear of it and schools not in session, this frame has been stressful for many workers.
People who can work from home are more likely to be White and have high incomes. The new office life leaves out the 6 in 10 American workers who cannot work from home.
Not all White-collar employers are committed to this new way of work, either. Some bosses schedule back-to-back Zoom meetings and monitor desk time by whether a Green Slack light is on, signifying employees are available. Others have already summoned people back to work. There is also the possibility that employers could panic about trying something new in a recession and with high unemployment, workers have less power to make demands.
Even for the lucky 1’s, all-remote work into the Winter could become dull and lonely, which is 1 reason that most office workers say in surveys that they prefer a hybrid arrangement: in the office some days and remote some days.
In the survey, which was conducted earlier this Summer, a significant number of people said they were incorporating more nonwork activities into their workdays: exercising, praying or meditating; taking naps or pursuing hobbies.
About 40% said they were taking more walks or breaks, or spending more time outdoors, 50% said they were spending more time with their family or doing household tasks.
Realistically, most people were not working 8 or 10 hrs straight in the office either, but running or meditating is probably healthier than scrolling through social media or gossiping.
It seems to be reducing stress levels.
Even in a time of extreme stress overall, people who have been working from home were more likely than not to say they were less stressed than before about both work and home life. Roughly 60% said working from home had made them more able to focus on their health, saved them a lot of time each day, and made them feel more connected with their families.
75% said their productivity was either the same or improved. It does not take a survey to tell us that interspersing work with rejuvenating activities like walking or resting often boosts energy and creativity.
Workers are already thinking about ways they can keep this going after it’s safe to return to the office.
Only 1 in 5 said they wanted to go back full-time. Nearly 1 in 3 said they would move to a new city or state if remote work continued indefinitely, which companies like Zillow and Twitter have already said they would allow. Some people have moved to less expensive places, or to be closer to family or nature.
Working from home you have more time for the things that really matter.
Have a healthy day, Keep the Faith!
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