THE GREAT DEBATE: IS WFH HERE TO STAY?

Rise (joinrise.co)
Sep 9 · 15 min read
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Rise is the first forward-looking career platform to help people make moves fearlessly. Powered by technology, our modern work ecosystem brings together future-focused jobs, on-demand benefits, and a supportive community. We use high-skilled, work-from-anywhere roles to accelerate a woman’s career. Companies seeking to fill internal skills gaps, staff part-time leadership roles, or complete time-sensitive projects can use the platform as a new avenue for recruitment. Learn more at joinrise.co.

Working-from-home may once have been something that only freelancers, entrepreneurs, or novelists did, but since the onset of COVID-19, that has clearly changed. Employees working across all sectors, from finance to education, have had to adapt to working-from-home. In fact, thanks to the pandemic and various social-distancing measures, WFH has become the new normal. While there are clearly benefits to remote work, such as increased flexibility for employees and reduced costs for employers, many have also found it difficult or less productive. The question now is, should work-from-home continue beyond COVID-19? To answer this question, we interviewed 18 people leaders, including recruiters, HR managers, founders, and CEOs, some who are clear supporters of remote work and others who are strongly against it. So…which team are you on?

Team Work-From-Home

Tracy Julien, Chief Commercial Officer and CEO of bioClarity, a plant-based vegan skincare line

“Just looking at the sheer numbers, we would save a lot of money by not paying for office space or office equipment.”

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“There are a lot of benefits to going fully remote, especially for a smaller business like bioClarity. Just looking at the sheer numbers, we would save a lot of money by not paying for office space or office equipment. Aside from that, we’ve seen a rise in productivity and overall happiness from our employees. For the parents working at our company, WFH gives them more time with their kids and takes away the burden of finding childcare. There are positives and negatives of course, but for us, the positives outweigh the negatives.”

Genevia Sawyer, Founder of h.b. Lighthouse, a digital community organization supporting Black women-owned beauty brands

“I don’t spend as much money as I once was with gas refills and dining out.”

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“The benefits of working from home absolutely outweigh the costs. I don’t spend as much money as I once was with gas refills and dining out. I don’t even have to stress myself out about what to wear to work. If I’m not feeling well, I can lay down and rest my head on a pillow as opposed to a hard, cold desk. I’m an introvert, so I’m happy that I get to escape idle conversations by the water cooler or midday mixers. I eat healthy foods non-stop now since free snacks aren’t looking at me from across my office desk.”

Susannah Caviness, Founder of Tower Press, custom print and design studio based in Atlanta

“I am now able to move to a city I’ve always wanted to live in, not deal with horrible major-city traffic all the time, and save money on utilities and extra overhead (about $3k a month for me, not including gas for a 14-mile commute).”

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“As someone who struggles with ADD, I wanted to work from an office because I really liked the idea of separation and a schedule with minimal distractions. Quarantine left me no choice though! I had to learn to embrace WFH, and actually am breaking my office lease in the next month to transition into WFH for the foreseeable future. I am now able to move to a city I’ve always wanted to live in, not deal with horrible major-city traffic all the time, and save money on utilities and extra overhead (about $3k a month for me, not including gas for a 14-mile commute). This is now money I can reinvest into my business. Paying for ONE internet service, and ONE light service is going to be so nice! The savings alone are going to be worth it for a small business in an era where the economy is so uncertain. In the past, I was very apprehensive about hiring for roles remotely, but I’m definitely on board as the business grows and we get more comfortable with adjusting to new normals.”

James Jason, HR Manager at MiTrade, award-winning trading platform focused on online foreign exchange and Contract for Difference (CFD) trading services

“Employee motivation, productivity and morale have increased for those working-from-home or remotely.”

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“I think working from home should become a norm and continue beyond the pandemic. Firstly, studies done during the pandemic have demonstrated that employee motivation, productivity and morale have increased for those working-from-home or remotely. It seems the freedom and flexibility employees gain beyond the office is working well for most of them. Two, employers are also having an easier time putting up with fewer employees at the office. They have cheaper bills for utilities like electricity and food. Where companies have gone fully remote, there are no offices to rent and equipment to replace and purchase.”

Georgette Pascale, Founder of Pascale Communications, a completely virtual healthcare communications agency

“With working-from-home, I see high productivity, high morale, and lowered costs.”

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“Great work boils down to evolving with the needs of your colleagues while still staying true to mission. The beauty of virtual is the free culture it creates in your office. When individuals are able to work when they feel most productive and in an environment where they feel most inspired, it is undeniably visible in the work they produce. With working-from-home, I see high productivity, high morale, and lowered costs. Ultimately, virtual work can be productive past COVID if managed correctly. Embrace the freedom that comes with virtual, listen to your colleagues, and continue to adapt in the ways that best fit your company.”

Hannah Dixon, Founder of Digital Nomad Kit, helping Virtual Assistants & Freelancers take their business to the next level

“I believe that if companies try to bring employees back to the cubicle, those employees will be searching for work elsewhere in no time.”

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“I do think working from home should, and will, become more commonplace in a post-COVID world. I believe that organizations should be in the business of making remote team culture a priority, for extending benefits and perks that adhere to a remote environment and becoming adept at utilizing some of the tools remote companies have been taking advantage of for years now. Honestly, it feels like high time for the traditional workforce to reap the benefits of remote working, too many have had a taste of spending more time with their family, being able to go grocery shopping at 11am on a Tuesday and writing emails from the bath. I believe that if companies try to bring employees back to the cubicle, those employees will be searching for work elsewhere in no time. I’m seeing it happen as an Online Business Coach, this is my greatest year in business because people have had a taste of what WFH could be. It’s time for a workforce revolution and businesses need to be ready to make big change to welcome work-from-home positions being the norm.”

Dawon Hawkins, Chief People & Training Officer at Xcelerate UDI, a leading health-tech start-up

“Rather than being stuck behind a desk for a solid 8 hours a day, working-from-home gives people more time to take care of their wellness — mentally and physically.”

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“The benefits absolutely outweigh the costs! Rather than being stuck behind a desk for a solid 8 hours a day, working-from-home gives people more time to take care of their wellness — mentally and physically. Rather than rushing to make packed lunches or buying food everyday, they are free to cook fresh healthy foods as and when they want. From the perspective of the company, we enjoy much lower operational costs as there’s less money spent on rent and maintenance of an office space. We like to think of the environmental impact too. We’re taking up less space and therefore less resources, expecting less travel from colleagues, and most paperwork is being replaced by working online.”

Nabila Salem, President of Revolent Group a global leader in cloud tech talent creation

“Many employers have been slow to adapt to the desire for a less rigid approach to work, and now that people have seen what’s possible, businesses who roll back these options risk losing out on talent too.”

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“There’s much to be gained from offering remote work, even under such challenging circumstances. When employees can work from home, they tend to have a better work-life balance. That little bit of autonomy and flexibility can make people happier, healthier, and more productive. Employers might save on some overheads too. Plus, they make themselves a more attractive prospect when hiring. We’ve watched this slow-burning backlash against the 9–5 grow in recent years, especially among younger generations joining the workforce. Many employers have been slow to adapt to the desire for a less rigid approach to work, and now that people have seen what’s possible, businesses who roll back these options risk losing out on talent too.
All remote, all the time isn’t going to work for every business, but it doesn’t have to be black and white. If you can make it work, why shouldn’t you give people the option? I think it’s about having a bit of flex in our working lives and feeling more in control.”

Mitchell Robertson, Co-Founder and VP of Business of Code Fellows, a tech-education company

“Most of this increase in productivity can be attributed to healthier lifestyle changes, such as more regular workouts, taking breaks, less time in stressful commutes, and despite most assumptions, far fewer distractions.”

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“Remote work should be here to stay. Though it can come with some negative side effects if proper systems, boundaries, and schedules are not put into place, there are far more upsides. To start, most studies show that productivity increases significantly. Most of this increase in productivity can be attributed to healthier lifestyle changes, such as more regular workouts, taking breaks, less time in stressful commutes, and despite most assumptions, far fewer distractions. Second, there are large financial savings to companies and employees in the form of decreased expenses and increased retention. Commuting costs (fuel, parking, tolls, car maintenance) alone can account for as much as $10–15k in savings a year per employee, not to mention reduced facilities costs. In one of my previous startups, we were able to reduce our office rent costs by more than $60k/ month by shifting to remote work.”

Alexia Georghiou, Founder of The Resilient Pathway, a training & development consulting platform for organizations

“Work is changing due to multiple factors, and we need to adjust. Working-from-home is the work of the future!”

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“The benefits definitely outweigh the costs! Follow the path of trailblazers such as Google to reward employees with a percentage of their work hours to be utilized creatively to benefit your organization. Remote work is our future with artificial intelligence (AI) in the forefront due to the pandemic. We are in a new age of AI. Organizations need to continue to learn to utilize technology to monitor productivity, and morale. Apps such as Slack are effective means of group collaboration & communication. Work is changing due to multiple factors, and we need to adjust. Working-from-home is the work of the future!”

Jane Flanagan, Lead Project Engineer at Tacuna Systems, a load measurement engineering company in Colorado

“The Covid-19 pandemic has made us realize that it is in fact possible to run a business with a fully remote workforce.”

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“The Covid-19 pandemic has made us realize that it is in fact possible to run a business with a fully remote workforce. Many business are seeing equal or superior performance from employees working from home. It all depends on how well the company manages their workforce. In my opinion, remote working can be very beneficial — it helps businesses save money on running costs such as rent, electricity, telephone bills, etc. and also has the advantage of a reduced carbon footprints left by employees.”

Justin Brown, CEO of Ideapod, a social platform that collects and amplifies ideas that matter

“Really, when it comes down to it, it’s not that remote work should continue beyond COVID, it’s that it inevitably would.”

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“I’ve been managing a completely remote team of employees for a few years now. And honestly, I’m surprised it took this long for companies around the world to embrace the remote-work culture. Either way, it was bound to happen. As to whether remote work should continue beyond COVID, I believe the answer is yes. Now that both employers and employees have experienced the remote work culture, it’s likely that companies will permanently transition into this arrangement. Why? Operating on a remote work scheme is a win-win situation. And because of this pandemic, people realized many businesses can continue operating without having a physical office. For business owners, there’s the obvious advantage of not having to pay for rent, maintenance, etc. For employees, there’s the freedom of working anywhere, not dealing with the commute, etc. Really, when it comes down to it, it’s not that remote work should continue beyond COVID, it’s that it inevitably would.”

Rachel Ben Hamou, Director of Talent Development at PeopleStorming, a platform offering coaching, training, and consulting for teams

“I’m excited for this future.”

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“I fully support a default to distributed working with occasional in-person gatherings for particular meetings, workshops, retreats as desired by the collective. This, however, does mean a renewed look at the digital workplace — a streamlining of information and systems, an increased focus on making the virtual world friendlier and more playful for all its occupants. I’m excited for this future.”

Team Work-In-Office

Urenna Onyewuchi, People leader at A Professional Africa (APA), premier collaboration platform for the development of Africa and emerging economies

“I bet you that in the next one year, productivity will go down as a result of remote work.”

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“My answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT. I am both an employee and a founder. I believe the cons of remote work far outweigh the benefits. With working-from-home, you miss out on the foundation of what makes us human: interaction. You miss out on advocating for others and vice versa for whatever employment/personal topic that comes up in conversation. Mental health issues arise: loneliness, depression, insomnia. I have friends who have experienced these. Moreover, most people I know work longer hours when they work from home. I know I have. I have had to make the conscious decision to create work-life balance in the midst of it. In summary, mental health and happiness are more important than however much companies and employees save from not coming to the office. I bet you that in the next one year, productivity will go down as a result of remote work.”

Mark Webster, Co-founder of Authority Hacker, an industry leading online marketing education company

“It’s only after working remotely for a long time that the cracks truly appear and you realize just how much more efficient your business may have been working physically together.”

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“Working form home isn’t necessarily the best option for every type of business. Here’s why: Things change after the first 6–12 months. A lot of workers and managers are still in the honeymoon period of remote work. It’s great having more free time without the daily commute, you can spend more time with your family and overall, your wellness feels improved. The problem is, it’s not until a year in that you really start to feel the toll of a remote work environment. It’s around this point where you’ll start to see whether your business has the infrastructure and support to thrive as a remote business. It’s when the small issues start to add up and affect your employees’ wellbeing. For example, the 10-minute wait to access your antiquated remote desktop service or the dead of attending the tenth zoom call of the week. You can’t always reinvent the wheel. Perhaps budget constraints or technical reasons prevent you from streamlining your online work environment. Eventually you’ll hit a breaking point where these things stack up and end up becoming more than a slight annoyance to your team. And the longer this is left to fester, the more demotivated and disengaged your team will become. The main point I am trying to make is that it’s only after working remotely for a long time that the cracks truly appear and you realize just how much more efficient your business may have been working physically together.”

Tina Nikolovska, Founder of TeamStage, a project-management platform created by managers for managers

“The problem with working from home is the issue of privacy.”

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“Not all people will enjoy remote work. Some (extroverts) need to meet people, have random chats, and take part in a place’s shared energy. I’m not sure what the future brings for these people, because it appears that working-from-home is beneficial and cost-saving. The problem with working from home is the issue of privacy. Many companies use time trackers for clocking in and out. The time trackers offer screenshots as one of their best-selling features to ensure that the employees genuinely work during their working hours. I believe that in time, the focus will shift from performing productivity (shown in percentages) and making sure that the employees are focused for eight hours, to requiring the output without regard to hours and productivity percentage. The conversation is yet to happen, but I believe that the entire paradigm of employee productivity and engagement will need to change to suit the new reality.”

James Major, Founder of Insurance Panda, an auto insurance quote comparison portal

“With half of the team at home and half of the team at the office, the work-from-home crew tends to get left out of decisions that need to be made quickly. They also get left out of casual conversations, joking around, and all of the other fun times at the office that lead to work camaraderie and team-building.”

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“I don’t believe that working-from-home should become the norm beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting in March, we gave all of our employees the option to work-from-home full-time. Unfortunately, it’s been a less-than-optimal situation. With half of the team at home and half of the team at the office, the work-from-home crew tends to get left out of decisions that need to be made quickly. They also get left out of casual conversations, joking around, and all of the other fun times at the office that lead to work camaraderie and team-building. Consequentially, I’ve noticed a definite rift developing between the office workers and the home workers. I just hope things can return to normal soon so we can get our full team back at the office.”

Jordan Brannon, President and COO at Coalition, an e-commerce agency

“Because much of our work is creative, there is a tangible sense that concepts and ideas are easier to express in person (as opposed to Zoom).”

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“When we are given the opportunity to safely reopen our offices, we will. Further, we’ll look to take advantage of an expected drop in commercial real estate leases to negotiate advantageous rates for new office locations. We see an upside in employing office-based team members. Because much of our work is creative, there is a tangible sense that concepts and ideas are easier to express in person (as opposed to Zoom). Further, clients anticipating a significant investment with us, appreciate that we can substantiate our representations online with real people in real offices near them. Finally, some team members’ home locations are not well suited to support remote work, and we’d hate to lose out on top talent simply because their living circumstances necessitated going to an office.”

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Rise (joinrise.co)

Written by

Rise is the first forward-looking career platform to help people make moves fearlessly. We connect ambitious women to project-based and freelance opportunities.

OFFSITE

OFFSITE

Rise is the first forward-looking career platform to help people make moves fearlessly. Powered by technology, our modern work ecosystem brings together future-focused jobs, on-demand benefits, and a supportive community. Learn more at joinrise.co.

Rise (joinrise.co)

Written by

Rise is the first forward-looking career platform to help people make moves fearlessly. We connect ambitious women to project-based and freelance opportunities.

OFFSITE

OFFSITE

Rise is the first forward-looking career platform to help people make moves fearlessly. Powered by technology, our modern work ecosystem brings together future-focused jobs, on-demand benefits, and a supportive community. Learn more at joinrise.co.

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