How Many Workers Will Quit If They Can’t Work Remote?

Updated: Jan 22

Post-pandemic, flexibility over where they work will be a basic component

when workers consider the “employment deal”


Who knew working from home would still be de rigueur in 2021? I mean, sure, last summer, some big companies, like GM and Google, already decided they would extend their WFH policies until June of 2021. I, for one, thought it was overkill.


Surely, this pandemic would be over sooner than that...? Alas, here we are.

These businesses decided that, when employees are not required to be in the office, it is better for everyone to work remotely. This, even when working from home is disliked by and bad for most employees, researchers say.


To be fair, this study was specific to WFH during pandemic conditions. No doubt current circumstances have contributed burdens and uncertainties that weigh heavily on some—many—employees. Moreover, I think most of us are tired of just about everything we are required to do as a result of the pandemic.


Irrespective of the coronavirus, there has been much debate among workforce and talent experts as to the correct course of action regarding WFH. It has finally been settled that people can effectively work from home. The question is: What do businesses gain and lose when their employees work remotely? As you might expect, there are excellent arguments on both sides. For instance, some point to studies that suggest working from home negatively impacts our mental health. This is a concern all of us should take seriously.


On the other hand, some point as an advantage of WHF the reduced expenses for both the company and the employee: companies are giving up expensive office leases and relinquishing paid parking spaces Downtown; employees save both money and time by eliminating their commute to work.


In some respects, what employers care about is irrelevant. What matters is what employees want. If their expectation is the continued flexibility to work from home at least part of the time, and their employers are not giving it to them, the employers may lose them.


Perhaps you saw the USA Today article, Employees greatly favor working remotely, in the January 7 edition of the Columbus Dispatch.

  • 29% | working professionals who say they would quit their jobs if they couldn’t continue working remotely

  • 42% | US workforce that has been working from home fulltime during the pandemic (generally “white collar” office workers)

  • 61% | white-collar office workers who say they want their company to let them work remotely even post-pandemic

According to Brian Kropp, chief of HR research at Gartner, “Flexibility over where they work will be viewed much like the way a 401k is viewed—as a basic component of the employment deal.”


The question employers need to resolve is not where their employees work, but how competent their managers are in managing remote workers. There are specific principles and tactics that every manager needs to know and do to effectively manage remote workers.


It is not too late to learn what those things are, essentially how to be the boss everyone wants to work for.

The best part is, all the things necessary to manage employees working from home happen to be the same things required to manage employees working in the office.


It may not seem like it now, but employee attraction & retention continues to be important. Your organization’s approach to working from home will be a key factor when existing employees contemplate whether to stay at your company and new employees consider whether to join.

Do you allow the flexibility for employees to work from home at least some of the time? And are your managers skilled at managing their workforce regardless of where they are sitting?

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