LinkedIn Economist: Remote Work Will Not Displace In-Person Work

LinkedIn believes that remote work will not disrupt in-person work once the pandemic is over. LinkedIn’s principal economist, Guy Berger, told Yahoo Finance that he’s found that a lot of people “want to be in the office”. At the same time, employers find it easier to manage in that format, which is why they would prefer employees to be in the office as soon as possible.

The coronavirus pandemic has raised a lot of questions regarding the future of work environments in general. Quarantine measures have forced many companies to quickly transition to a work-from-home format. Researchers are studying whether or not this type of setup is sustainable.

As more cities reopen, employers are questioning workers’ appetite to return to the office. “There’s more appetite to return to normal from a lot of people, both employees and bosses, than people currently appreciate,” Berger said. “Despite gloomy predictions, that desire is likely to rise once a vaccine becomes available.”

On the other hand, Stanford University economist Nick Bloom suggests that working from home may not just be a temporary side effect of the pandemic. Many white-collar workers will be strongly encouraged to work from home at least for some time over the next year or so.

In 2015, Bloom published a study that found that Chinese call center employees who worked from home were 13 percent more productive than employees in a control group because they took fewer breaks and made more calls per minute. They were also happier and were less likely to quit their job. This shows that remote work has its benefits.

Some companies may even allow many of their employees to remain remote on a permanent basis, granted that they are still producing results.

However, remote work also poses its own unique set of challenges. For example: family members walking in while workers are on important phone calls and online meetings. This is not a problem for people in the office.

There is also the fact that about 60 percent of jobs in the US cannot be performed at home. Lower-income workers who can’t work remotely, such as grocery store clerks, warehouse workers, and meatpackers, all have to go back to work. This goes to show that working from home isn’t an option available to everyone. So while some companies may adopt a work-from-home approach for the near future, it would not be the case for everyone else.

Working from home has its mental health benefits—as well as other practical benefits such as avoiding traffic, and increasing worker productivity—but it will not displace in-person work.

All things considered, the pandemic will have some lasting effects on in-person work. Conferences, in-person meetings, and even handshakes might not be worth the risk of infection—so employers and employees alike can expect a reduction of non-essential interactions.

Berger believes that despite the rise of work from home setups, “remote work is not going to totally displace in-person work.”

Additionally, Berger struck a note of caution surrounding the market’s growing expectations of a sharp recovery after the recession. “It could very well be that the recession is over, but that the recovery is very slow or takes a long time getting going, and that we remain with employment that’s before its pre-COVID levels for a long time.”

As many families are realizing, having your workplace be your home can lead to a hectic blend of labor and family life. This is one of the many reasons why the post-pandemic workplace dynamic will remain largely intact, despite the cautious new measures that will be implemented in most companies.

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