Working from home continues to be successful for many tech companies, even as the number of Covid cases in Los Angeles continues to decline.
Whether this new workplace culture has been studied before, during or after the pandemic, one thing is certain – remote work is here to stay.
Nicholas Bloom, an economics professor at Stanford, has been studying remote work since 2004, before the pandemic pushed companies to move to virtual workplaces. Before the outbreak, 5% worked from home full days, and last month this number increased to 30%.
According to Bloom, the hybrid workplace is gaining ground because it has four main benefits: employees are happier, productivity increases, it supports diversity, equity and inclusion, and (for some) it saves the company from investing and paying. For more space. These and other factors have prompted businesses to continue to allow hybrid operations, and some have moved away entirely.
Bloom said that working from home often increases productivity by 3% to 5%, especially since the time employees don’t have to travel is being used to get more done. In addition, the average worker can concentrate more in the quiet of their home.
“Full remote has two main advantages: you can save 20% to 30% on office costs and you can hire globally,” Blue said in an email. “The biggest downsides are that it’s harder to recommend; it’s harder to build a culture, and it can stifle innovation. As a result, while it’s clear for organizations that in-person hybrids will beat in-person professionals and managers, it’s not clear that they’ll completely beat remote hybrids.”
Bloom added that while hybrid work is already commonplace, the tech industry is unique in that it focuses entirely on remote work.
One size does not fit all.
In the year Founded in 2015, Sure is a technology company headquartered in Santa Monica that unifies digital insurance programs for brands and carriers in one platform, such as policy listings and claims management. Since before the pandemic, the business has been a “remote-first” company, said Wayne Slavin, executive chef.
“Remote has always been a great natural fit for tech work… A lot of collaboration tools have been developed and planned over the last several years, even before Vivid, everything from Zoom, Slack, but some have really made it possible. Other meaningful collaboration tools around designing software and project management tools. They don’t have to be on sticky notes on the wall anymore,” Slavin said.
Slavin is quick to admit, however, that remote work can hinder the face-to-face interactions necessary to build trust among team members.
“In those situations, we encourage people to meet face-to-face from time to time and necessarily do work, but also hang out, connect, and make those connections,” Slavin continued. But from a productivity perspective, we’re very happy with how remote work has gone for our team, and I think that’s reflected in the business results and our customer satisfaction levels.
EPAM Systems, on the other hand, wanted the best of both worlds, so the company’s employees have the ability to work from home or at the company’s Brentwood offices.
Larry Solomon, EPAM’s senior vice president and chief operating officer, said, “I think we’ve acted fairly quickly and fairly aggressively since the start of Covid. But even before that, we always expected a very flexible model here; Flexibility in where and how people work is one of the most important things we provide to our people.
“People like choice,” Solomon added.
“I think today’s workforce doesn’t really appreciate top-down authority,” he said.
The value of WFH
According to Matthew Kahn, professor of economics at the University of Southern California, telecommuting, like anything else, comes with certain costs, such as finding more space at home and increasing electricity bills.
Khan added that there is a generational divide between older and younger workers when it comes to virtual workplaces. On the one hand, older workers who are established in their careers are satisfied with working from home because they can do their work while attending to personal matters. On the other hand, young workers want to be back in the office where they can make connections and get mentorship in their field.
“For middle-aged people, we have our networks, so we can do our work by zooming in. For young people, who are trying to network, who are trying to find their place, working from home is not for them,” Khan said.
A positive effect of the remote workforce, according to Kahn, is that tech companies have access to a wider, more diverse talent pool.
“Before the Vivid crisis, it was clear that tech companies were going to Silicon Valley,” Khan said. “What’s unfair about that old model of entrepreneurship is that cities like Baltimore don’t attract enough of these startups. They were all moving to San Francisco, driving up housing prices and increasing traffic congestion in Silicon Valley… and in cities with large African American populations, African Americans were not getting into technology enough because they had to go to Seattle. Silicon Valley or Boston to get into tech.
Both Bloom and Kahn have researched the pros and cons that push tech companies to decide whether fully remote or hybrid work is for them. But virtual workplaces are not widely used in other sectors, according to Kahn.
“Can work from home penetrate into fields we don’t see now? The key here is that it doesn’t penetrate areas where face-to-face contact is critical, such as the dentist or installing solar panels. “I don’t see how they can do it from home.”