Is work from home (WFH) here to stay? For good?
The simple answer: It depends.
But recent announcements by major corporate, financial, and tech industry firms, from Twitter to Facebook to Morgan Stanley, suggest that the days of the five-day work week in the office may be over.
NPR’s Uri Berliner explored “permanent WFH” in a June 22 segment of All Things Considered. It’s one thing, says Berliner, for edgy tech firms to make the bold switch to permanent WFH for their employees. That's expected.
But for more conservative companies in traditional industries, like 94-year-old Columbus, Ohio-based Nationwide Insurance, to make aggressive moves to promote WFH, it's quite surprising.
The insurance giant announced in late April that it will close five regional offices for good, in favor of having these employees (30 percent of the company's overall workforce) work from home. Nationwide's goal is to increase that to 50%.
Berliner writes: “It's three months into a huge, unplanned social experiment that suddenly transported the white-collar workplace from cubicles and offices to kitchens and spare bedrooms. And many employers now say the benefits of remote work outweigh the drawbacks.”
A primary driver of the shift to permanent WFH, of course, is cost savings. Company leaders are questioning whether all that pricey office real estate is money well spent, especially when productivity is holding steady after month of remote work.
As Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman put it during an interview on Bloomberg TV: “We’ve proven we can operate with effectively no footprint.”
The company has 60,000 employees. Ponder that for a moment.