If there’s anything positive to come from coronavirus, it’s that nearly three quarters of office workers now say they’d like to work from home more often once restrictions are lifted, according to a national survey by the staffing firm Robert Half.
Seventy-four percent of more than 1,000 survey respondents said they’d prefer to telecommute more often, and more parents, 79%, said it would be their preference.
“When companies open their doors again, business as usual will be different,” Paul McDonald, senior executive director of Robert Half, which has more than 300 locations including offices in Milwaukee and Appleton, said in a statement.
Nearly 80% of those surveyed said they were working from home. Sixty percent said their work-life balance has improved because they’re no longer commuting to the office and 43% said they’re now more comfortable using technology.
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Parents doing their job from home were more likely than peers without children to report having a better work-life balance, becoming more tech-savvy and having deeper relationships with their colleagues than before the pandemic, according to the survey done the week of April 17.
Looking ahead, more than half of the office workers said it would be more difficult to build strong relationships with colleagues if they weren’t in the same building as much.
But for health reasons, 56% said they worried about being in close proximity to colleagues. Seventy-two percent said they would rethink the practice of shaking hands with business contacts, 52% said office workers should be required to wear masks, and 46% said they favored changing the office layout.
“The pandemic is causing fear and anxiety, and employees will want reassurance their employer is prioritizing health and safety,” McDonald said.
People are increasingly becoming comfortable with working remotely.
Seventy percent of the survey respondents said their company should hold fewer in-person meetings and training sessions once the pandemic ends, and 79% favored being allowed to work from home more frequently.
“I think it’s something that will be more prevalent,” said Jim Jeffers, manager of Robert Half’s Milwaukee area office.
“Now that we have been almost forced into working from home, we have an idea of how successful or unsuccessful its going to be based on the industry you’re in,” Jeffers said.
In some cases, working from home has improved office communications.
“The amount of contact I have been having with my employees now is fantastic,” Jeffers said. “We have more conference calls happening, more check-in points, more rallying calls where people are coming in and talking about successes or things they need to work on.”
Overall, it’s getting easier.
“People are getting more open to the level of communication they need to have when they’re not sitting right next to their colleagues. They need to make those calls or send those instant messages instead of just potentially putting off a conversation,” Jeffers said.
This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Office workers want to work from home more, even after coronavirus