Remote work isn't going away any time soon, and CEOs are concerned.
With the rise of the Delta variant and the recent surge in Covid-19 cases, many large companies are delaying their returns to the office until early next year, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. That timeline would amount to nearly a two-year stretch of working remotely -- and executives at many companies are worried about how that might affect their businesses.
Amazon and Facebook recently announced they would delay the return to office work until early next year. Apple told employees they wouldn't go back to headquarters until January 2022. Lyft plans to bring employees back in February, which would mark 23 months of remote work.
"If you have a little blip, people go back to the old way. Well, this ain't a blip," Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger told the Journal. As such, Gelsinger believes that remote work won't go away even as Covid fades. "There is no going back."
Prudential Financial vice chair Rob Falzon told the Journal his greatest concern currently is being able to retain talent. "As individuals disassociate themselves with their organizations from a cultural standpoint," he said, "it becomes increasingly easy for them to make decisions to leave and go elsewhere."
Polls have found that American workers enjoy remote work. A survey performed last month by background check company GoodHire found that 85 percent of respondents prefer to apply for jobs that offer full or hybrid remote-work options. Nearly a third indicated they wouldn't even consider applying for a job that required them to be in the office five days a week.
As such, employees at some companies have pushed back when asked to return to the office. Apple employees sent two petitions to company management in recent weeks protesting the tech giant's since-scrapped plan to return to the office in September and asking for more flexible options.
The remote-work trend can create difficult conditions for small businesses. As Inc. wrote earlier this year, benefit requirements vary from state to state, which can cause headaches for businesses with small or nonexistent HR departments. And tech giants being able to hire workers anywhere in the country can make hiring more challenging. To combat that, some experts advise offering salaries that vary based on employee location -- and using websites like PayScale or Glassdoor to ensure that those salaries are competitive.