So, how's that remote thing working out for your company?
"If you hire strong people who know what they need to do, they should be treated like adults and be allowed to work wherever they prefer." - YCharts CEO Sean Brown
More than half of employees today are working from a home office, a couch or even from bed, legs tucked comfortably under the covers.
A whopping 59% of workers with jobs that can be done from home are teleworking today, just a slight drop from the peak of the pandemic in October 2020, when 71% were home, according to the Pew Research Center.
The top 100 companies in Crain's Best Places to Work 2022 overwhelmingly allow and encourage employees to skip the commute and work wherever they're comfortable—even if this choice wasn't offered pre-pandemic.
So how is it working? Is productivity suffering? Are working hours longer? Shorter?
Every company interviewed by Crain's reported significantly higher levels of productivity after switching from in-office to remote work.
At YCharts, an investment research platform that ranked 19th on Crain's list, 10% of employees had a work-anywhere option pre-pandemic; that percentage is 90% now. YCharts CEO Sean Brown says once the number of people working from home increased, productivity rose by 10% to 20%.
"If you hire strong people who know what they need to do to succeed, they should be treated like adults and be allowed to work wherever they prefer to work," Brown says. "Our employees feel more in harmony in their lives having the freedom and flexibility to define their own working arrangements."
Working from home for YCharts isn't without set expectations, however. There are all-company in-person meetings two or three times a year, along with weekly or monthly team days.
Employees who do make the commute are rewarded with a free lunch at the office.
The Lactation Network, a breastfeeding-support company, which went from a 100% in-office environment to offering a remote option for all employees, revisited many corporate standards to make the transition flow smoothly.
"We place a high premium on each other's time," says Sarah Kellogg Naff, the Chicago-based CEO. "Especially in a hybrid environment, this means a disciplined meeting culture."
This means the default meeting length is 30 minutes, and employees are encouraged to inquire why they were invited to the meeting; they also may decline attending if they believe their time would be better spent elsewhere, Naff says.
The camera-on setting is the default setting for Zoom meetings, as seeing other team members' faces regularly is crucial to building relationships in a remote setting. But, Naff says, there are no questions asked if someone wants their camera to remain off.
Wednesdays are meeting-free days. "The impulse to fill every day with meetings is real, especially when we're not all working in the same office," Naff says. "No-meeting Wednesdays give our team space to take a breath, catch up on emails and do deep-focus work."
Working from home doesn't happen without a lot of inside help.
At WayFinder Logistics in Chicago, which went from no work-from-home employees pre-pandemic to a 100% telecommuting option, the IT team prepared everyone with equipment and training.
WayFinder swiftly provided each employee with a home workstation, and they learned how to do their jobs via cloud-based software and communication platforms, says Preston Carter, director of operations. Once the company went remote, WayFinder's managers needed to check in more frequently and be accessible through video conferencing.
Rules instituted included mandatory in-office work only during orientation and onboarding and for career-development purposes. A "hot desk" platform allows employees to reserve in-office workstations; it lets employees know when their co-workers will be in the office.
"A tip we'd give to other companies is to provide flexible options while also recognizing that company culture transcends a physical office space," Carter says. "Although we've given employees the freedom to work remotely, most of our employees voluntarily come into the office at least two to three days per week because we've been successful in maintaining a company culture in which employees enjoy working alongside their co-workers."