The coronavirus pandemic has turned our world upside down. It’s been a taxing affair for our minds, bodies, and our wallets. But perhaps there’s a silver lining: the nation working from home has highlighted both the benefits and plausibility of this new labor system. If companies and corporations offered employees work from home options even after the conclusion of the pandemic, there would be a significant positive impact on productivity, health, and the environment.
Working from home firstly increases productivity. Think about it: getting stuck in the endless lines of traffic snaking across the freeway, jamming oneself into a subway only for yet another delay to occur—commuting to offices takes out a big chunk of a worker’s day. If the daily commute were eliminated altogether, productivity would skyrocket. Hours would actually be utilized efficiently instead of being lost while sitting in a stuffy car.
At-home work also places employees in a comfortable environment. Does anyone really think the best work is done in the grey hell known as an office cubicle, illuminated only by the harsh, fluorescent glow of industrial light fixtures? You wouldn’t take a test better in a stifling white-collar shirt, so why should you have to work in one? Let people work from their homes, in the clothing that best suits them for work, in spaces that are conducive for productivity. It would also allow workers to care for their families instead of having to take unexpected time off when a child takes ill.
There are plenty of health benefits that come with working at home as well. Commute-induced road rage, food poisoning from the remnants of your coworker’s lunch clinging to the microwave door— all of this could be avoided by simply working at home. Productivity goes hand in hand with health; if you’re in a state of mental and physical wellbeing, you work better. You’re more likely to be healthy if you’re in an environment with limited exposure to other individuals and the viruses they may come with. We’ve already seen the benefits of social isolation as part of our efforts to flatten the curve of the current pandemic; reduced times at the office water cooler would go a long way toward preventing future outbreaks as well. Those groupthink type benefits and collaboration can be accomplished virtually, as we do so currently with our online working.
Finally, there’s the environmental aspects to consider. Planes, trains, and automobiles all emit carbon dioxide, wreaking havoc upon our atmosphere. Maintaining office buildings has both high fiscal and environmental costs. If individuals worked from home, the harmful impact of commutes and offices on the Earth would be lessened. There have been multiple reports that the ozone layer has seen significant improvements since the beginning of the quarantine; if working from home remained a significant option, this trend would most likely continue.
Some detractors may claim that long-term work from home would limit camaraderie and stunt the development of friendships between employees. I beg to differ. During the pandemic and with online work in effect, many people have become closer—and once the pandemic concludes, people can still hold company dinners, or stop by to get coffee with one another. In-office work certainly plays a role in developing relationships, but there are many more factors to consider.
This proposal isn’t a complete shutdown, nor is it a declaration for all work to be done from home. There are advantages to commuting to work, as some homes may not have the necessary facilities. Instead, this is simply the idea that companies should increase work-at-home options. I believe that if more employees were offered this alternative, we would see a noticeable change for the better– when it comes to productivity, the environment, and our health.