Different Perspectives On Work From Home

Insights from Phillip Price, Managing Partner of IMSA Search Global Partners United Kingdom and Murray Price Executive Search

Remember March 2020 when Covid was declared a pandemic? When offices, schools, entire cities shut down? Workers were told to stay home for the foreseeable future, having no idea of when things would return to normal. Some businesses shut down completely, while others pivoted to online. Remote work and video conferencing tools exploded. And while the future has been anything but foreseeable, now in just four years, working from home has become part of the “new normal.”

Statistics Paint a Mixed Picture

While the majority of full-time workers (59%) still work in person, only 13% work completely from home and 28% are hybrid (WFH Research 2023). In spite of the overwhelming affinity by workers, the increase in WFH appears to be gradual, with only about 22% of the US workforce projected to be working remotely by 2025 (Upwork 2023).

WFH varies by industry and job. FlexJobs reports the computer and IT sector as the leading industry for remote work in 2024, followed by marketing, accounting and finance, and project management. In the medical and health sector, WFH is increasing with the rise in telehealth and the pivot to digital health records. However, some industries have a harder time adopting hybrid/remote work models, such as manufacturing, agriculture, and bricks/mortar retail.

Remote Work in HR and Recruitment

Virtual communication, collaboration, and assessment tools enable HR and recruitment departments and search professionals to operate remotely, no longer solely reliant on in-person interactions. According to Indeed, 93% of employers plan to continue conducting job interviews remotely. Additionally, 57% of all workers say they would look for a new job if remote work were not allowed (FlexJobs) while 32% of hybrid workers say they would accept a pay cut for full time remote work.

Phillip Price, Managing Partner of Murray Price Executive Search and IMSA Search Global Partners United Kingdom explains, “We have clients that are finding it increasingly difficult to hire if they don’t offer flexible WFH.  At the same time, some of our clients are turning down great candidates because they insist on a predominantly work from home contract.”

Effect of WFH on Employee Wellness and Mental Health Requires Strategies to Address Them

While workers continue to report liking flexible hours and improved work-life balance of remote work, they also raise mental health concerns. Companies must develop strategies to address them:

  • Problem – 69% of remote workers report increased burnout from the constant stream of emails and other digital communication (Forbes Advisor).
    • Solution – developing a digital wellness strategy which sets boundaries around work-related digital communication
  • Problem – 53% of remote workers say it’s harder to connect with coworkers due to the lack of in-person interaction (Pew Research).
    • Solution – creating multiple team-building strategies to help promote personal connections in remote settings

Phillip Price weighs in: “The pitfalls of WFH are only now coming to light, especially with regard to employee wellness and related mental stress issues. How can employers engage and nurture their staff if they seldom see them? Our clients are asking questions like ‘Are our employees getting enough training? Enough mentoring? Are they lonely? Are they overworked or bored?’ These are serious issues. It is notable that, recently Deloitte in the UK, who in 2022 told all colleagues that they could enjoy remote working permanently (resulting in shedding 250,000 square feet of office space), has just taken on 70,000 feet of new space at their London campus to accommodate those who prefer to be in the office.”

Productivity, Monitoring Software, Cybersecurity

The effect of WFH on productivity appears mixed, depending upon the nature of the work. However, recent research is positive. A study reported by Stanford Business of 16K call center workers showed a 13% increase in productivity for remote workers, citing more calls per minute due to quieter environment, shorter breaks, and fewer sick days. Yet companies remain concerned, as many (60% according to Gallup) turn to monitoring software for WFH accountability.

Cybersecurity remains a major concern, with over 70% of global executives reporting being very or somewhat concerned about online security risks of remote employees (Statista 2024). Strict security protocols and training for remote workers continues to be a worldwide business imperative.

While WFH and hybrid work models are now part of the global economic norm, its long-term cultural implications are just beginning to be understood. Price wonders, along with his clients, about potential negative implications: “Sure commuting to the kitchen table might use less gas and help global warming. But if everyone has to heat their houses all day, is that a net positive impact?”

About IMSA Search Global Partners: With 50+ offices in 25+ countries on 6 continents, our 300+ Executive Search experts span the globe to identify the right candidates to successfully lead teams and organizations locally, regionally, and globally. https://www.imsa-search.com/