Is the era of working virtually from home finally upon us?
If Twitter is closing its office doors worldwide and other tech giants like Google, Amazon, and Facebook are extending office closures until as late as the fall of 2020 (or into 2021), how many other tech companies will follow in the steps of their industry leaders?
In other sectors like insurance and finance, we’ve heard Nationwide Insurance is talking about permanent telecommuting. Capital One announced to their workers (all 40,000 of them) they would remain out of the office at least through Labor Day.
Regardless of how you feel about industry giants or the belief that they already had tons of advantages – like plenty of hardware and software already at their disposal or enough revenue in reserves to properly outfit their employees – we can’t deny that these companies could be forging the future of business that extends beyond pandemic and social-distancing times.
This path could be advantageous to a great number of employers and businesses regardless of size.
There are a ridiculous number of benefits to working from home for both employer and employee — or business owner and contractor. I should know. I’ve been running a business from my home since 2001 and I’ve been training Virtual Experts® on how to do the same since 2008. The success of our businesses is in part because of the advantages we have in working from home.
Benefit #1: Reduced Overhead Costs & Increased Business Investments
As a virtual business owner, I know firsthand the cost savings from low overhead. I don’t have a commercial lease, utility bills, or supply vendor contracts. I don’t have other monthly expenses associated with keeping an office space open. And I certainly couldn’t imagine the expense I would incur if I had to remedy the air filtration system. Or redesign of the office space to keep with social distancing requirements. Or experience the new supply costs for thermometers, gloves, and masks.
The money that isn’t spent on those overhead items can be invested in other areas of my business, like any number of revenue-generating initiatives that fall under product/service research and development, sales, marketing, etc. Or bringing on more team members – experts in their area – to take over parts of my business that I’d rather stay out of, so I can focus my attention elsewhere.
Benefit #2: Employee and Contractor Satisfaction and Performance
I believe the working-virtually-from-home model works because of the independence and autonomy it gives to employees and contractors.
In my business, I work with contractors. They have the freedom to complete their tasks without my interference or looking over their shoulders. They have my trust that they’ll do it well and right.
I’m not suggesting that businesses that employ people, suddenly stop supervising all together. I am suggesting that the freedom and autonomy that can come from working from home might lend itself to greater employee satisfaction.
Additionally, for business owners with employees, the overhead costs incurred in physical building expenses and management could be filtered over to meeting employee needs. Think- better benefits (perhaps), or in establishing comfortable at-home work conditions (like ergonomic setups), or ensuring efficient and high-performance with cutting-edge technology. All three of these things would support greater employee satisfaction and performance.
There have already been studies on the benefits of remote working at the employee level. A considerable amount of research focused on employee happiness, work-life balance, better productivity, and reduced stress.
This was before COVID-19. Before health and safety were at the top of everyone’s mind.
Employers may be fearful that people working from home are getting less done. They may be taking more breaks or throwing too many loads of laundry in. But consider that those people may end up being more productive. Or the fact that throwing in a load of laundry can take as much time as going to the bathroom and then returning to your desk.
Those mental breaks and getting up to move is good for both the body and the mind and the overall performance of the employee. And the better your employees, the better your business. Right?
Benefit #3: Health and Safety of Us and the Planet
Last and certainly not least, the health and safety of our workforce and planet are better off. With access to their kitchens, our workforce may eat and snack in healthier ways. With access to their home gym or workout equipment or neighborhood (for running/walking) and no commuting time, they may have time to fit in exercise during their lunch break or get right to it before or after work, in place of the time they would have spent in the car.
At home, they don’t have to worry (as much) about getting something from colleagues who didn’t call in sick when they should have. Even before COVID-19, people were coming into the office with illnesses that should have kept them home. They’d touch all kinds of shared surfaces throughout the day without proper hand washing.
From the planet perspective:
Imagine how much cleaner and healthier our air and environment will be with fewer people driving every day. Fewer buildings throwing all the lights and power on. Less paper being used. And, less waste in general. I know, this may be simplifying it too much and not accounting for the winter months where we all crank up our heat, or the summer months where we all crank up the A/C.
I’m willing to bet there are already people looking at how these changes to our work/home life in light of COVID-19 have impacted our environment and what that means for our future.
What about the buildings now sitting idle and taking up space in our cities and towns without any occupation? There are solutions for those too. There are plenty of brilliant humans to figure out ways to re-purpose those beautiful buildings and skyscrapers.
I know it’s a lot to consider. Shutting down physical office locations. Keeping colleagues separated. Letting go of the way we used to do business.
I recognize that not every industry, not every sector can go remote. Our food and beverage, hospitality, travel, and tourism industries aren’t going to be able to go 100% virtual. People want to resume eating out, going for drinks, traveling. Despite those that cannot join us in the virtual workspace, there is no denying a great many advantages that businesses can grasp when they go remote.
Twitter, Google, Facebook, Amazon are always on the cutting-edge of technology. Why shouldn’t they also be on the cutting edge of the future of business? The question is, will you follow them into the future or hold on to the past?
Want to learn more about what it’s really like to work from home as a Virtual Assistant and Virtual Expert®? Check out my YouTube channel (Like and comment on this video and subscribe while you’re there.)