COVID-19 has impacted our lives in too many ways to count.1 One of the more notable changes as far as our work life specifically is the large uptick in employees working remotely.2 Within only a few weeks, the number of work-from-home employees went from 31% to 62% of the workforce.3 Working from home or “telecommuting” is a way in which employees use Internet connection and a computer to do work in the comfort of their own home.2 Many firms leverage the capabilities of Zoom, Google Hangouts, FaceTime, Skype, Cisco Webex, and other digital services to communicate via webcam, giving employees access to a pseudo face-to-face environment with their other remotely working coworkers.4 Overall, it was been a challenging time for many workers to transition to remote work life, but there are some benefits.
Benefits of Remote Work
- No commute or travel time – Without the daily drive to and from work, employees are saving time and gas.2 Plus, no more sitting in traffic (a working professional’s dream!).
- Ability to dress-down – Comfortable T-shirts and sweatpants have quickly replaced suits and heels as workers socially distance themselves.1 Even though some employees are not completely dressed down, most are still wearing a less dressy version of their normal attire.1 This can help with employees’ overall comfort during this very stressful time.
- More breaks can lead more productivity and less burnout – Many employees find it easier to step away from their desk while working at home, maybe for a quick snack or to walk the dog.2 Taking breaks throughout the day can help workers actually be more productive.2 In the long run, this also helps prevent employee burnout.2
- Extra time for the important things – Without the need to get ready and drive to work, employees get a little more personal time back. This can mean more time with the kids, more time to call loved ones, or even a little alone time to relax. Even if it is just an hour a day, this extra time could mean a lot for workers trying to maintain some work-life balance.
Challenges of Remote Work
- Technological issues – In a recent survey, 35% of remote workers said they experienced work setbacks due to unstable Internet service and 43% said they had to use their phone as an Internet hotspot in order to complete their work during the COVID-19 pandemic.1 Even the best technology can experience issues on occasion, but when employees are dependent on these technologies for work, it can cause big problems. To combat this, employees can take this time to review their home technology setup. It may be time to purchase new hardware or upgrade the home wireless service.2
- Distractions – Many are now forced to share a workspace with their family members or taking on a part-time homeschooling role for their children.2 Employees are facing a distraction-filled workspace that can make it hard to focus. There is not an easy solution to these challenges, but there are some actions that may help. First, it may help to add more educational and entertainment materials to the house to keep the kids occupied.2 Second, employers may be able to provide some flexibility as far as when meetings are scheduled and how employees manage their daily schedule. Employees can reach out to their manager to see if there is flexibility. Third, workers should remember to be patient with themselves.2 Everyone is dealing with distractions and stress from the COVID-19 pandemic, so things may be less than perfect now.2 However, with continued experimentation and an flexible mindset, employees may find new ways to stay on track.2
- Micromanagers – With the new remote setup, many managers are struggling to adapt to their changing role. It can be difficult to manage a remote team without the benefits of face-to-face interactions. Employees will have to be patient with their supervisors as they adapt. (Remember, your boss is going through the stresses of COVID-19, which may be why they seem more overbearing than usual.)
- Stress of the COVID-19 situation – The COVID-19 pandemic has been extremely disruptive, impacting most areas of our lives, work lives included.1 The stresses of staying healthy and preventing the spread of disease can weigh down on employees.1 Employees may need to be intentional about taking time for themselves, doing whatever helps them decompress.2 This may be a great time to try a new hobby or catch up on reading.
The Future Workplace
While it is highly unlikely that the recent spike in remote work will cause physical offices to disappear altogether, there will likely be some changes.4 Fifty-two percent of managers surveyed by Gallup claim they will allow employees to work from home more frequently.3 The number of employees that would prefer to continue remote work after the pandemic are higher in the technology, insurance, arts, entertainment, media, finance, and professional services industries, and lower in industries such as education, retail, transportation, and construction.3 Some firms have already reacted to this, implementing permanent remote work options to their employees.4 For example, Twitter and Square are offering employees the ability to work from home instead of going into the office.4 Unfortunately, these new remote opportunities may lead to some negative consequences for employees, such as lower salary and less opportunities for raises and upward growth.4 For employees returning to a physical workplace, there will likely be some changes, including social distancing and coronavirus screenings.1 The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has shared guidelines for employers to follow in their office buildings (view the CDC guidelines here).
Investing in the Post-COVID-19 World
With time, some factors should contribute to financial recovery after the virus, including a widely distributed vaccine, availability of key supplies, the reopening of businesses, and increased demand for goods and services once people are able to go out safely.5 In the meantime, you may want to have more cash on-hand to cover your short-term expenses (this is especially true if you are retired).5 However, exiting the market in whole or completely may make you miss out on positive returns.5
Another strategy many investors utilize to weather market downturn is to increase fixed income (bond) exposure and decrease equity (stock) exposure to mitigate some risk.5 When the market improves, you may choose to shift your strategy back to a more equity-focused portfolio.5 The bottom line is, to increase return, investors seek to buy at a lower price and sell at a higher price. So, investing during the down days may help you catch the upside throughout the COVID-19 recovery and market improvement.5
To discuss your long-term financial goals after the pandemic, feel free to call our office at 772-888-3757.
- 6 Ways COVID-19 Will Change The Workplace Forever: https://www.forbes.com/sites/williamarruda/2020/05/07/6-ways-covid-19-will-change-the-workplace-forever/#1bfa07b0323e
- Working from home 101: http://members.platinumstrategies.com/pages/catalog/product_detail.php?product_id=5178&category_id=167
- How Coronavirus Will Change the ‘Next Normal’ Workplace: https://www.gallup.com/workplace/309620/coronavirus-change-next-normal-workplace.aspx
- How a remote work boom will affect salaries, jobs, and where people live: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/how-a-remote-work-boom-will-affect-salaries-jobs-and-where-people-live-190344317.html
- Top 8 questions on investing in the current climate: https://investornews.vanguard/top-8-questions-on-investing-in-the-current-climate/