Prior to the pandemic, about 5 million Americans worked remotely. But COVID-19 forced U.S. employers to allow telework on a massive scale, resulting in an estimated 75 million people working from home over the past year.
Some experts say there’s no going back now that both employers and workers have learned that telework can be effective.
“The pandemic has radically changed how we view telework or remote work,” says Timothy Golden, a professor of management at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. “It’s changed mindsets. It’s changed cultural and social norms for where and how work gets done. … Many individuals and companies have realized that we can work remotely effectively. And so, I think remote work is here to stay.”
Companies are now trying to figure out how a post-pandemic workforce will operate. That could entail a hybrid model where some people are in the office most of the time, some primarily telework and others do a mix of the two.
“We are going to err on the side of letting more people work remotely for longer periods of time,” says Ravi Gajendran, chair of the Department of Global Leadership and Management in the College of Business at Florida International University.
“Then, they’re going to find that that’s not working as well, and the pendulum will sort of swing slightly back towards the office. It’s not going to come back to what it was previously, but what we’re going to find is, as new employees join, as new teams form, and…