American workers have permanently changed how they get about their business. The New York Times estimates that 50 million office workers are now permanently based at home, with many more in hybrid working arrangements. With automation bringing up the rear, more and more workplaces are becoming digital – and, soon enough, the entire labor market may find itself operating almost entirely online. This is a somewhat sobering prospect for many, but it’s arguably a good thing, too, starting with one fundamental factor – worker happiness.
Employees are happier
When working from home, employees are happier. A report by TechRepublic indicates that 67% of all office workers report greater levels of comfort and happiness when in the home office, compared to being at a company’s premises in person. This is a complex picture, of course. Home workers need their own working space, set up in an ergonomic and comfortable position, even when in a small space. It’s psychologically important to have a clear work-space, somewhere separated from the bedroom – which is for sleep – and the living areas – which are for relaxation. Having that separation is important, but once in place, it will enable workers to be happier than ever. Accordingly, remote working will mean people are happier – if they have their space.
As well as providing a more comfortable space to work, home offices also reduce the amount of money leaving the home every week. While there are upticks in cost related to energy bills and equipment costs, there are huge savings being made when it comes to travel, eating out, cell phone data and the professional wardrobe. Together, USA Today estimates that this will save the average US worker $4,000 a year – a huge sum of money that can be spent on recreational goods, or professional tools to help hone the personal craft. At a time when the cost of living, inflation and interest is rising, any money that can be clawed back is appreciated.
Digital is king
The movement of the service economy from brick-and-mortar to digital is inexorable, and it’s effective. McKinsey’s research shows that digital customers, contacted early, will spend 12% more on digital payments than those contacted via other methods. This shows just how influential the digital world is, and how important it is that businesses are located within it – and that means current business. Moving to a digital-only world is essential, and that means workers will need to get involved, too. The pivot to working through the web on an almost 100% basis will continue apace, and those employers not providing an all-digital base will be left behind.
That’s not to say there’s no real-world connection. On the contrary, local businesses with tailored goods are still a huge part of the national GDP. The difference is in engagement – businesses have to be tech-savvy to get ahead, and workers have to be given that opportunity in order for businesses to continue growing.