The future of working from home
Tony Ransom has worked for Morgan Stanley in Northeast Columbus for 10 years, but how he works all changed in March 2020.
“We were off for I guess about a year and a half and toward the end of 2021, they were making some plans for us to return to work," said Ransom.
Ransom, like millions of others around the globe, began working from home because of the deadly Coronavirus, but late last year, things began to look up. Employees were scheduled to come back into the office in January on a hybrid schedule, working in the office three days a week and working remotely for two days.
“But they did nix that idea, put it on hold temporarily, while the numbers were spiking. So, in 2022, we remain at home, “ he said.
Now, with case levels low, companies are bringing their employees back into the office- but slowly.
“There's such a labor shortage right now so we have to listen and kind of bend to what the workforce wants and they do want that remote work or at a very minimum a hybrid model,“ said Felicia Wilson, Vice President of Marketing at Dawson, a longtime employment agency in Columbus.
Wilson said although many workers want to stay home, the companies she works with want their employees in the office.
“There's been a shift to bring people back to the office because they've really noticed in terms of turnover and engagement, turnover sucks. There's much more turnover from remote workers, there's less engagement. So there has been a shift from companies who thought that this remote landscape was here to stay. They're deciding, 'Wait, maybe this isn't right, we need to bring people back,'" she said.
Katrina Roby, the business development manager with the Dawson agency agrees but said most companies they work with understand there must be some flexibility.
“It may even be 70-30, 70% hybrid and 30% full time in office. I would say most employers, even if they do require them to be in the office full time for the first 90 days of training, are then open to looking at a hybrid schedule down the road," said Roby.
Attorney Michael Wright has several offices in Ohio, including one in Columbus. He said he is trying to work with his employees.
"It's still kind of a work in progress, we are still somewhat in a hybrid model. I have some employees that have small children that aren't able to get vaccinated yet. I have other employees that have been in the office full time," said Wright.
Wright said the key for him is following the science to make sure his staff is safe first and foremost. He said although things are moving forward, he plans to still use caution.
“We're still not comfortable moving back to that level yet. So I'm giving the employees the option of how they want to handle it. Wear masks, not wear masks, you can come in the office, you can shut your door, “ he said.
For Tony Ransom, whatever the outcome, home office or the hybrid model, companies have learned another way to do business. The past two years have introduced him to a new option.
"I know a lot of people with young kids, they were kind of clamoring to get back into the office, but my kids are grown, so I just like the freedom and the flexibility to move around a little bit. You can still get your work done. I'm just as productive if not more at home,“ said Ransom.
As long as the productivity is there, experts say working from home will remain as common as driving to work every day used to be.