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Would a Recession Change Employees’ Preference for Remote Work?

While the US isn’t in a bona fide recession, we may be heading in that direction. The economic decline following the COVID-19 pandemic remains a prevalent issue, with unemployment and the economy weakening.

Recruiting during a recession is hard enough, but remote work is something else to consider in light of a possible recession. In October 2020, 64% of US employees worked from home because their offices were closed during the pandemic. By January 2022, 61% were working from home because they wanted to. So remote work has dramatically increased, with a surge of businesses embracing remote or hybrid workplaces.

Would a recession boost remote work? What benefits would that have for your employees and your business?

Remote Work Saves Costs for Employees

It’s no secret that employees prefer remote work. To start, it costs way less to work from home. The average employee saves $4k annually working remotely, factoring in lunch, commuting, and wardrobe.

That’d probably be enough to convince any employee that working remotely is a better option. But there are even more benefits.

Remote work removes the need for a long commute, and commuting significantly drains employees’ physical and mental health. Long commutes are stressful, bad for your health, and can even lead to depression. Not to mention that commuting less is incredibly sustainable and good for the environment.

Working remotely is overall less stressful for employees. They work in a more comfortable environment, generally have a more flexible schedule, and can take mini-breaks throughout the day if needed. Compared to a high-stress office environment, working remotely is much more comfortable. Less stressed employees get far more work done, increasing job satisfaction.

Remote Work is Good for Businesses

While it’s a widespread belief that remote work hurts businesses, it‌ does the opposite. Remote workers are more productive than in-person workers. They have autonomy and flexibility, allowing them to work more efficiently when they feel the most effective.

Remote workers generally take fewer sick days and might choose to work remotely instead of taking an entire day off. Remote workers are also generally more loyal, meaning you’d save costs regarding employee retention.

Although every business should pay their workers fairly, having remote workers means companies can generally pay lower salaries. Having headquarters in large, expensive cities means your workers have to relocate to those expensive cities. But if you have workers living in an area with a lower cost of living, you can keep costs down.

Remote work can allow you to hire diverse employees, increasing inclusivity and diversity. Working virtually can reduce rough office politics or microaggressions that happen all the time in offices to your disenfranchised or minority employees. If escalated, racial or gender issues in the workplace can escalate into lawsuits. Working remotely creates a less extreme environment, meaning you could save on legal fees.

Candidates will also vastly prefer taking jobs that have remote work as an option, speeding up your hiring process significantly. Plus, you’d hire from a larger talent pool instead of being limited to one location.

And the cherry on top: remote work helps reduce your carbon footprint, which can boost your company brand in addition to helping the earth.

These factors combined mean that companies can save an average of $11k per year per half-time remote employee. That’s nothing to scoff at.

While many strategies can help reduce costs during a recession, embracing remote work could undoubtedly be a boon for your business.