Why many employees are hoping to work from home even after the pandemic is over

@rebekah | Twenty20

Like millions of Americans, Laura Hamill, chief people officer and chief science officer at software company Limeade, has been forced to work from home since early March in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. Though today's forced remote culture has been an adjustment for many, the mom of two teenagers says she looks forward to the possibility of working from home more often even after the pandemic subsides. 

"To me it sort of takes the edge off of the second shift," she tells CNBC Make It. "I can start the dishwasher in the middle of the day or I can put out the chicken to cook for a later meal." She adds that for her, working remotely has been a huge advantage as a parent. 

Like Hamill, many others are hoping to make their home office more of a permanent work space in the future. In fact, nearly 43% of full-time American employees say they want to work remotely more often even after the economy has reopened, according to a survey released by business publishing company getAbstract. Of the more than 1,200 employees surveyed between April 16 and April 17, nearly 20% said their employer is actively discussing how they can make remote work more of an option in the future. 

At Limeade, Hamill says they're already thinking of ways in which they can make their current flexible work program more accommodating. Before the pandemic, she says employees had the option to work remotely, but due to scheduling and business demands workers were still needed in the office multiple days a week. Now, she says, "we're considering actually flipping the paradigm and saying, 'What's the day that we all want to be in [the office] together?'" This way, she says, if they select one in-office day for in-person meetings and activities, then employees have the rest of the week to work from home if they choose. 

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Andrew Savikas, chief strategy officer at getAbstract, says one of the biggest reasons why employees prefer to work remotely is because they get to save time on their daily commute. On average, Americans spent roughly 27 minutes on their one-way commute to work in 2018, according to the Census Bureau. This equates to over 200 hours spent commuting per year. 

"People like having that time back," Savikas says, while adding that employees also like the flexibility of working remotely because they can "structure the day how they want."

According to a joint CNBC/Change Research survey of more than 5,000 voters in swing states, 47% said the time they would normally spend on commuting has now been used to spend more time with their family. The survey, which gathered responses between April 17 and April 18, also found that employees have been spending the time they save on their commute to sleep more, focus on various hobbies and get more work done.

Raymond "RJ" Jones says he's seen first-hand how a remote work schedule can positively impact your personal and professional life. Prior to stepping into his current remote position as executive vice president of finance and growth at eXp World Holdings, a cloud-based real estate company, Jones spent his entire career working in an office.  

He says his last job, which was vice president of investor relations at Zillow, required him to spend roughly two hours commuting to and from work each day. "I live in Tacoma, [Washington] and would commute to Seattle each day," he says of his regular commute to Zillow's office. "It was guaranteed at least an hour on the bus or train each way, and that's with perfect traffic."

Now, Jones says, "the commuting nightmare is gone" since his current role allows him to work remote full-time. Before the pandemic, Jones, who has a 15-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter, says his flexible schedule allowed him to go to his "kid's sporting events and help out with family logistics." He explains that with his wife being an attorney and having a work schedule that is just as demanding as his, the ability to work from home took "so much of the burden off of her." Moving forward, he says, workplace flexibility will remain a top priority in his career. 

While the current pandemic is certainly unprecedented, Savikas says its impact has only reinforced a lot of the changes we were already seeing. "E-commerce was already a big thing. Home grocery delivery was already a thing, and working from home was already a thing [for some]," he says. "It's just that we've encountered five years worth of change in five weeks and that can be a little bit jarring."

The executive says he hopes this pandemic will provide "one of those rare opportunities to radically rethink the way we work and live." This includes, he says, having "less time spent in cars, less pollution and a chance for people to reclaim some flexibility and have more work-life balance."

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