Market To Market: 'Zoom'-ing In On The WFH Revolution
More than a year after COVID-19 forced a worldwide work-from-home movement, remote work is working—and working quite well. Most employers (83 percent) and employees (71 percent) say working from home has been a success, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ U.S. Remote Work Survey.
About seven in 10 employed adults who can work remotely are currently doing so, according to Pew Research, and more than half (54 percent) say they want to continue working from home even after the pandemic is over.
Research shows that people who work from home are often happier and more productive than when they worked in an office. Even in a year like 2020, 75 out of 100 remote workers said they were happy with their job, according to the Workforce Happiness Index survey by CNBC and SurveyMonkey. And thanks to a quieter work environment, more focused time and no office politics to navigate, 51 percent of remote workers say they have been more productive since working from home, according to a FlexJobs survey.
Working from home also saves money for both employers and employees. Global Workplace Analytics estimates that employers save more than $11,000 per year, per work-from-home employee. These savings come from a lower cost of office space, reduced absenteeism, increased productivity and less turnover. Remote employees often save thousands per year—$2,500 to $4,000—simply by eliminating their commute.
Considering the success and popularity of remote working, all signs point to an office-optional future. One in four Americans will continue working remotely this year, and by 2025, 36.2 million Americans will be working from home, according to Upwork’s Future of Workforce Pulse Report. This marks an 87-percent increase from pre-pandemic levels.
However, offices aren’t becoming completely obsolete. Slack surveyed 9,000 workers in six countries and found that 72 percent prefer a hybrid model that combines remote and in-office work. For employees returning to the workplace to conduct at least some of their work, almost all (95 percent) expect their employer to provide some COVID-related protections. A survey from Wakefield Research shows that most employees expect free hand sanitizer, new masks and socially distanced workspaces.
In this era of transition, with employees working from home and also venturing back into offices sometimes, companies can use promotional products to keep their employees working safely and smartly.
While working from home is a good solution for many, not everyone wants to continue it. Younger employees are the most likely to want to get back to the office. Among employees with five or fewer years of experience, 30 percent say they want to work from home no more than one day a week, according to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Younger professionals are also more likely to feel less productive while working from home compared to their more experienced colleagues (34 percent vs. 23 percent).
Companies can nurture their up-and-coming talent with promotional campaigns that emphasize professional development. By promoting training sessions and mentorship opportunities, employers can help bridge the gap that some young professionals feel when working remotely.
Promotional products distributors can also work with companies to help them make life easier for employees who have children at home. Throughout the pandemic, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that 93 percent of households used some form of distance learning, putting an extra strain on working parents who work remotely. About a third of working parents with children younger than 18 say it is now harder for them to balance work and family responsibilities, according to Pew Research.
From sending logoed games and toys for employees’ kids to shipping self-care items to workers, there are many opportunities for companies to show support and send a smile to working parents.
Professionals who choose to work remotely say their biggest reasons include:
60% - A preference for working from home
57% - Concerns about COVID-19 exposure
45% - Childcare responsibilities
14% - Workplace access restrictions
9% - Relocated away from their office
Source: Pew Research Center
More than half of Baby Boomers (52 percent) say they are most productive working from home, compared to only 38 percent of Millennials.
Source: Zapier’s Remote Work Report
While working from home has often gotten a bad rap, the tides are turning. Employers now see how working remotely has improved performance across the board. Here’s where employers say performance has improved because of remote work:
44% - Collaborating on new projects
44% - Coaching employees to succeed
43% - Securing relationships with new customers
41% - Innovating products or services
38% - Onboarding new hires
Working from home is so important that about one in four workers say they would take a 10-20 percent pay cut to work remotely.
Pre-pandemic, these states had the highest share of the population working from home:
- New Hampshire
And these states had the fewest remote employees:
- West Virginia
The top fields and fastest-growing job categories for remote work are these:
- Computer/information technology
- Project management
- Human resources and recruiting
Working from home has plenty of perks, but also some struggles. See below for some common challenges for remote workers:
27% - Not being able to unplug
16% - Difficulties with collaboration and communication
16% - Loneliness
15% - Distractions at home
12% - Staying motivated
7% - Being in a different time
zone than colleagues
Source: Buffer’s 2021 State of Remote Work Survey
41% say productive
30% say reflective
25% say exhausting
Source: The State Of Remote Work from Monday.com
Working remotely brings some coveted perks. Here’s what really lights up today’s teleworkers:
70% - Reduced non-essential meetings
60% - Increased schedule flexibility
54% - No commute
44% - Fewer distractions than in the office
34% - Greater autonomy
Source: Upwork's Future of Workforce Pulse Report
These remote-work challenges also present opportunities that companies can help solve through creative programs and products:
- Staying organized
- Managing time
- Taking regular breaks
- Switching off after hours
- Social interaction
More women than men prefer to work from home, but they are less likely to have the opportunity. Consider these pre-pandemic stats:
62% of female workers wanted their employer to allow them to work from home, compared to 53 percent of male workers.
40% of female workers did not work remotely because their company did not allow it, compared to 25 percent of men.
62% of female workers were more likely than their male counterparts (17 percent) to have quit a job because their employer did not offer a flexible work schedule.
Source: Zapier’s Remote Work Report
According to a Gartner study, 44 percent of employees say their company culture has improved since moving to remote or hybrid work, while 32 percent say it has improved a lot.
Get all the likes with a phrase every work-from-home employee can relate to: “I think you’re on mute.” The Hashtag Mint Tin is packed with sugar-free mints and can be customized with a logo, web address or company-specific hashtag.
Chocolate Inn / PPAI 111662, S7 / www.chocolateinn.com
Made with two-ply micro plush and soft ribbed flannel, the Regency Striped Blanket™ provides cozy comfort from the couch to a Zoom call. A hidden pocket hides embroidery backing on this oversized blanket.
Towel Specialties/Cobblestone Mills / PPAI 113150, S7 / www.towelspecialties.com
Featuring three brightness levels and 28 mini LED lights, the Selfie Ring Light makes it easy for those in video conferences to put their best face forward in any setting. The ring light works with most mobile devices (including laptops and tablets) and includes a charging cable.
KTI Promo / PPAI 238818, S6 / www.ktipromo.com
A useful tool for any home office, The Wedge™ is a mobile device stand with a built-in wireless charger. This multifunctional stand charges, props and cleans, and features full-color dye sublimation for eye-catching messaging.
Toddy Gear / PPAI 516677, S6 / www.toddypromo.com
Whether remote employees step out for lunch or a walk around the block, the Newport Jacket allows for plenty of movement. Waterproof and windproof, this ultimate jacket features a three-piece hood, an inner storm flap, half-elasticized cuffs and a Zocket™ that folds into a self-pouch.
Vantage Apparel / PPAI 113235, S10 / www.vantageapparel.com
A hybrid 14-month planner and journal in one, the Journal Planner With Pen lets employees jot notes and pencil in upcoming Zoom meetings in one spot. This journal is designed with a heavyweight front cover that is foil-stamped in one standard color.
Drum-Line / PPAI 102565, S6 / www.drum-line.com
Businesses can outfit remote workers with the Pacesetter, a super-soft shirt made with spandex for fit and ease of movement. Available in men’s and ladies’ versions, this double-sided sueded jersey heather shirt features cover stitching detail and a chin guard for comfort.
Storm Creek / PPAI 438091, S6 / www.stormcreek.com
Ideal for employee recognition programs, the Bose QuietComfort® Earbuds provide a sleek, wireless listening experience. Whether staff members are listening to a company meeting or a favorite podcast, these earbuds produce crisp, clear audio.
Incentive Concepts / PPAI 212912, S10 / www.incentiveconcepts.com
Be a home office hero when your client delivers the Hello There! snack box, available in three sizes. The Lite size includes hand-crafted popcorn, a rice crispy treat and a Libretto journal. The Regular size adds coffee chocolate almonds and handmade pretzels to the goodies. The Deluxe size adds even more: apple cider caramels and lemon sugar cookies. Each is packaged in a designer box printed with your client’s logo.
Batch & Bodega / PPAI 110772, S11 / www.batchandbodega.com
Keep fidgety hands busy during long Zoom calls with the Robo-Cube Puzzle. This eminently posable seven-inch robot, inspired by Japanese kumiki puzzles, can be formed into a cube or any creative shape and back to a robot. Made of genuine hardwood in a natural, black or silver finish, it has strong elastic bands holding the segments together and comes packaged in a clear gift box. The box can be customized with a logo or dress it up with an optional bellyband for an extra promotional punch.
Jornik Manufacturing Corp. / PPAI 111065, S6 / www.jornik.com
As temperatures drop, remote workers can stay cozy when they wrap up in the Sweatshirt Sport Hoodie. It’s like a favorite sweatshirt and blanket in one. With a single button at the neckline, convenient hood and a generous 50-by-60 inches, it’s easy to wrap up in. It’s crafted of 50 percent cotton and 50 percent polyester and available in gray.
Pro Towels / PPAI 112755, S8 / www.protowels.com
No home office is complete without a favorite mug. The Ultimate Mug is crafted of stainless steel with double-wall construction and is vacuum insulated and copper lined with a ceramic-coated interior and easy sliding lid.
Ad-N-Art / PPAI 236926, S4 / www.adnart.com
Upgrade anyone’s work-from-home setup with the DeskSaver Kit #2. Inside the premium white gift box with magnetic closure are a mini Bluetooth speaker with built-in mic for conference calls, an adjustable stand for phone or tablet and a desktop cable organizer. The gift set includes branding on all products and on the box top. Dropship friendly.
Powerstick.com / PPAI 383252, S8 / www.powerstick.com
Stryker, one of the world’s leading medical technology companies, wanted to celebrate employees at its President’s breakfast. However, COVID-19 meant the event had to go virtual. So, supplier The Chest created a package that could be sent directly to employees’ homes. Each custom box contained an award and a champagne flute for a celebratory champagne toast. A die-cut foam tray ensured the breakable gifts arrived safely. Recipients also found a personalized thank-you card inside a chipboard pocket under the lid.
Source: The Chest
While working from home has become the way businesses have continued to keep their doors open during the pandemic, not everyone was able to work remotely. Essential employees, especially those in health care, had to continue to be on the job in their workplace daily. Hoag Hospital was among those who sought to recognize the dedication of their health-care workers by selecting a custom gift to thank them. Working through a distributor, the hospital created a custom, four-color process box with graphics that made it picnic-worthy inside and out. An interior divider helped showcase the items inside that included snacks, a 100-piece puzzle printed with images of the hospital and snapshots of the caregivers, and gift cards for groceries and entertainment. A letter of appreciation from the hospital president was printed under the inside lid of the box. Each box was shrink-wrapped and individually shipped to the employees’ homes.
Source: The Chest
Audrey Sellers is a Dallas-Fort Worth-based writer and former associate editor of PPB.