The “new normal” of the work environment has drastically changed since the pre-pandemic months of 2020. Today, employers are faced with the challenge of ensuring equity, while responsibly and ethically managing the workplace. Additional challenges giving rise to the new normal across the country are high inflation, raised rents, and a general increase in the costs of living. In the coming months and years, it will be the employer’s challenge to address these issues with a mutually beneficial solution. 

Options For Employers

One solution that is gaining popularity is the 4 day work week. By moving away from the 5-day/40-hour week, employers will be less responsible for increasing wages to accommodate the rising costs of living. The benefit of this solution is that it may increase workplace productivity and reduce burnout or fatigue. However, it will require most employees to look for supplemental work in order to maintain their lifestyles. 

The alternative is allowing employees to work remotely across the country. Some areas are habitually known for having lower costs of living. Additionally,  eliminating costs such as work transportation while working from home are highly attractive options. Critics of remote work ignore the equitable opportunities it provides, and instead complain that there could be less workplace efficiency. Depending on the work type and the employee, that can be an unfounded concern.

Benefits Of Remote Work

Some of the most vocal critics of remote work argue that workplace productivity is not possible in remote and hybrid workforces. However, statistics show that workplace productivity has steadily increased since March of 2020 with a 47% increase in a year (apollo). Some employers also worry that they will face the difficulty of ensuring equity among employees in a hybrid workplace. Critics worry that there will be obvious discrepancies and inequality between remote and in-office workers, despite the statistics proving that remote workers and in-office workers have the same productivity output.  However, awareness of this issue and a solution-based mindset is the best approach to ensuring equity in this regard.  

There are several examples of the possible inequities that could arise. For instance, those who work in the office may be able to better demonstrate their productivity with their employers than those doing remote work; thus, leading to the possibility of remote workers being denied raises, promotions, and other benefits. If there is a concern, employers should focus on implementing systems that make sure this does not occur. 

COVID-Era Benefits To Remote Work

Remote work appears to be the best solution for cost efficiency in the face of a plummeting economy and in the face of a pandemic that we continue to hope will trend into an endemic. Those who work best in a remote work environment and those who are most at risk with auto-immune diseases will continue to need and/or want remote options in the workplace. Employers should consider long-term remote work in their business strategy for several reasons, but mainly because it may be required to accommodate a certain group of employees and it will likely remain an incentive for attracting others. Continuing to offer remote capabilities to those who desire it remains one of the most effective ways to compete in this current environment for key talent. . 

Moving forward, it will be imperative for employers to take on the role of ensuring equity among their hybrid workforce. Keeping in mind the way they measure workforce productivity and the importance of allowing remote work. The rising gap between financial inequality, cost of living, and inflation will make remote work even more attractive. Without an active plan for closing the gap of inequality and providing opportunities for all employees, employers will continue to see high rates of employee turnover and worsening productivity among their workforce.