Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans are struggling to find work. Stay-at-home orders, mandatory closures of many businesses, and other restrictions have thrown the job market into upheaval. Yet the future of employment in the United States is on the verge of a remote work revolution. Although up to 43% of the country works from home at least one day a week, few have the option to do remote work full time. But that might just change. With uncertainty about a second wave of COVID, many companies are embracing virtual offices.
1. Nationwide Insurance
If one company is making huge strides to ensure that the remote work revolution is progressing, it’s Nationwide Insurance. In late April, the Fortune 500 company announced its plans to close smaller corporate offices and move its 34,000 employees to either a remote position or one of their four major campuses by November 1. Traditional employment arrangements will carry on in San Antonio, Des Moines, Columbus, and Scottsdale. But outside of these areas, virtual teams will run the business.
“We’ve been investing in our technological capabilities for years, and those investments really paid off when we needed to transition quickly to a 98 percent work-from-home model. Our associates and our technology team have proven to us that we can serve our members and partners with extraordinary care with a large portion of our team working from home.” – Kirt Walker, Nationwide Insurance CEO
With the perks of going remote, no wonder Fortune ranked Nationwide Insurance in the top 100 companies to work for in the country.
“Today we let our team know they have the flexibility to work from home (or anywhere) through the end of 2020. My personal opinions about WFH have been turned upside down over the past 2 months. I expect this will have a lasting influence on the future of work…and home. Stay safe.” – Rich Barton, Zillow CEO
Remote work has had such great results for Zillow that its CEO has changed his opinions 180 degrees. As a result, the Seattle-based company has stated that all of its 5,249 full-time employees can work virtually now until the end of the year. While Barton hasn’t said if the remote work revolution will be permanent, Zillow appears to embrace the transition.
On May 12, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey sent an email out to employees announcing at least a prolonged remote work arrangement. In some instances, employees can work from home indefinitely through 2020 while others are permanently virtual. At the end of the year, Twitter plans to reassess its work-from-home policies. In the meantime, workers receive a $1,000 allowance to purchase office equipment and get a minor home office makeover.
Facebook has long been an office-centric culture with few telecommuters in the history of the company. However, the social media giant announced on May 21 that it planned to let many of its employees work from home. This includes up to 50% of its employees going remote within five to 10 years—a true sign of the impending remote work revolution. Prior to COVID-19, Facebook had provided daycare, free food, dry cleaning, and other services to keep their employees coming into the office.
But perhaps the reason behind permanent remote work isn’t nearly as progressive as it seems. According to numerous media outlets—such as Bloomberg—Facebook is going remote to cut costs. When the company announced its plans for remote work, it also stated that it planned to adjust salaries based on the employees’ cost of living. If workers move to lower cost-of-living areas, their pay might be cut accordingly.
5. Google and Alphabet
Google and its parent company Alphabet will have a majority of its employees work from home for the duration of 2020. By the beginning of 2021, the company plans to have a rotating schedule with 20% to 30% capacity of its buildings. However, Google doesn’t plan the full-scale rollout of telecommuting like the other American tech giants.
“In all scenarios I expect us to need physical spaces to get people together, absolutely. We have a lot of growth planned ahead. So even if there is some course correction, I don’t think our existing footprint is going to be the issue.” – Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet/Google
On May 4, Microsoft announced that it would give employees the option of working from home. Currently, the Redmond, Washington, company has over 54,000 employees in the greater Seattle area. Although employees can come back to their desk jobs, they can also choose to work at home until October.
In some regard, Bill Gates plans to model the Redmond campus after the 6,200-person Microsoft office in China.
“So far about half are now coming into work. They are continuing to provide support to employees who want to work at home. They insist people with symptoms stay home. And they require masks and provide hand sanitizer and do more intensive cleaning. Even at work, they apply distancing rules and only allow travel for exceptional reasons.” – Bill Gates, Microsoft CEO
On May 22, California-based Box—a cloud management and file-sharing service company—announced that all 2,000 of their employees could work from home until at least 2021.
“How do we replicate the in-office experience while working virtually? Soon, we realized that was the wrong question to ask, and instead, we should be answering how does being in the cloud enable us to work differently?” – Aaron Levie, Box CEO
This changing viewpoint of work-from-home scenarios closely emulates those of other tech companies. In the IT industry, this is becoming a trend, but whether or not it will branch into other industries remains to be seen. But with over 40% of Fortune 500 currently using Box for their cloud storage needs, remote work may just be another way to cut costs and improve productivity.
When CEO Jack Dorsey extended the work-from-home order for Twitter, it seemed only natural that he would give the same courtesy to his other company, Square. One week after his announcement on Twitter, Dorsey announced that Square employees could work from home through the end of 2020. To date, Twitter and Square are two of only a handful of companies that plan to implement permanent remote work policies.
Although Amazon has faced criticism for its treatment of workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s also embraced remote work for its corporate employees. They recently extended their remote work policy, giving salaried office workers the option to telecommute from May until the beginning of October. At that time, the Seattle-based company will reevaluate its policy on remote work.
At the end of April, Slack announced that its employees will work from home until at least September 1. Furthermore, Slack stated that it would continue to pay hourly and salaried employees, even if their jobs didn’t translate to a virtual forum. Because of Slack’s work-from-home policy, many experts are now speculating that the decision came as a result of their client’s belief of a long return to normalcy.
Back in March, Apple announced that it would let a majority of its workforce conduct their duties from home. Just one month later, the tech giant has continued its efforts to accommodate employees remotely. In addition, the company is offering increased flexibility for working parents and caregivers.
12. “The Voice”
On May 6, NBC’s “The Voice” partnered with Microsoft to bring the hit television show to viewers. Through Microsoft Teams and the Surface Pro 7, contestants performed in front of the show’s coaches. In this manner, viewers could still see Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas, John Legend, and their favorite contestants. The format could have been challenging, but even the live remote finale was a success—and still entertaining TV considering the circumstances.
Remote Work Revolution: Proof in the Numbers
According to Global Workplace Analytics, up to 56% of jobholders prior to COVID-19 had positions compatible with remote work. Despite this fact, only 3.6% of the workforce telecommuted full-time. But as companies reap the benefits of productivity and cost reduction, the remote work revolution will continue. The same study estimated that between 25% and 30% of Americans will work multiple days at home per week by the end of 2021. If you’re an aspiring remote worker, the news doesn’t get much better than that.
Although some companies can’t become fully remote due to the nature of their business, other companies are embracing remote work. Not only will this attract top talent, but more candidates will identify virtual work as a necessity, not just a perk.
How You Can Join the Remote Work Revolution?
By joining the telecommuting revolution today, you can enjoy the flexibility and work-life balance that many people only dream about. When you team up with Virtual Vocations, you have access to over 20,000 remote job listings, career services, and a telecommuting toolkit. With these resources, you’ll have everything you need to become part of the next evolution or how people work.
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