Before the COVID pandemic, many employees worked in large offices and had meetings in groups. Often, they ate lunch with coworkers and friends. At the end of the workday, they sometimes went out for a drink or dinner. However, much social interaction among employees is now limited to phone calls, messaging, forwarding documents, memos, and other electronic means of communication.
Certain industries require or thrive in environments with in-person contact. Depending on the industry, what can now be accomplished and how things can be accomplished varies. Salespeople, of course, often rely upon their person-to-person contacts as a means to convince a company or individual to purchase their products, so not meeting in person is a disadvantage. But, for other workers, there are more advantages than disadvantages to working from home.
Here are positive and negative economic implications for the workforce:
With many more workers staying home, there are fewer automobiles on the highways. This situation has a positive aspect as emissions are reduced. However, with the reduction of commuters, there is also less gasoline usage, a condition that affects oil companies, service stations, delivery truck drivers, and governments that collect on the gas taxes. With a decrease in commuter traffic, fewer traffic tickets are issued. Therefore, there will be less income to state and local governments.
Fewer Customers in Coffee Shops and Restaurants
Frequently, workers employed in city office buildings would stop at coffee shops before entering their place of work, or workers would send out an order to a restaurant. Now, those working from home will no longer provide business to such places; in addition, their social interaction with others is reduced. Casual conversation and being around others is beneficial for people, especially for certain personality types that thrive on personal interaction.
Unused Office Space
With at-home workers, office buildings will lose money from those companies that would typically lease offices. Commercial offices may transform into residential spaces in the future.
Challenges for New Employees
Supervisors and executives of companies find that training new hires has challenges. Instead of having a seasoned employee take a new worker around for introductions to the others and having these workers sit down with the new employee to orientate him or her, remote communication must be used with remote work. Since this method lacks the human touch, it is more difficult for new employees to gain a sense of the organization’s culture and get to know their coworkers. And, since they have not met the new employee in person, the other workers often do not recognize the new hire or understand his or her personality. Studies have revealed that the personal detachment of remote working can lead to 34% less peer recognition and the employees being 20% less likely to respect and adhere to company values.