Utah (ABC4) – It has been almost a year since the coronavirus pandemic hit back in March of 2020.
COVID-19 caused a record number of Americans to transition to remote work. As COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests workers should be allowed to work remotely if possible to limit the spread of the virus.
As we approach the year mark of the beginning of the pandemic, many Utahns are still working from home. ABC4 reached out to three Utah-based companies to learn about the pros and cons of working from home and what the future of working from home will look like.
Gene Schrecengost, Chief Human Resource Officer at Young Living, tells ABC4 that working from home has pros and cons.
“We were extremely impressed to see more camaraderie and productivity from our teams as we work from home separately but still together,” Schrecengost shares. “In fact, we even show that productivity increased from 25% in IT to 13% in sales at the beginning, and it has continued to be stellar. I have been amazed to see the resourcefulness and engagement from our team.”
Schrecengost says Young Living is all about sustainability.
“One of the best things to come from working from home is that we’ve been able to cut down on commuting and waste, which we’ve seen improve Utah’s air quality and environmental impact overall,” Schrecengost adds.
Young Living has found that by allowing 95% of their global headquarters’ workforce to continue working from home, they will eliminate 20,175 pounds of carbon emissions per day as they cut down on their daily commute and reduce vehicle emissions.
Though the company has experienced much overall success while working from home, Schrecengost says it has also experienced some cons.
“We have a very social company culture, so the idea of not working physically side by side seemed tricky to convert. But I’m seeing now that as the office culture changes, there are new and exciting ways to interact with each other that also offers the balance our employees need to be effective at their work and to address their wellness,” he says. “From happy hours to kid virtual workout sessions, we have seen new ways to interact.”
When asked if their company felt Utah was prepared to work from home when the pandemic hit, Schrecengost says Utah’s mindset helped the state be ready to handle what was thrown their way.
“Utah is, at its heart, a very service-oriented place. Everyone is neighborly and looks to help out at every turn. We have seen that example time and time again within our communities. It’s this mindset that I think sets Utah apart from other states.”
Looking past the pandemic, Schrecengost says Young Living might take a hybrid approach.
“Through this crisis, I’ve been able to reflect on the pros and cons of having a physical office. I think it is still important to give employees an area to collaborate and be together. But I’ve also considered the positives of working from home and how a more hybrid approach makes sense. I think this is what Utah leaders will look to pursue in the future to help accommodate the ever-changing work-life balance.”
Rachel Klemens, Culture Director at CHG Healthcare, tells ABC4 that CHG Healthcare is the nation’s largest privately-held healthcare staffing company. It is headquartered in Utah, and employs nearly 3,000 people around the country.
Klemens says CHG employees enjoy the flexibility of working from home.
“They have the freedom to work around the other things going on in their house – whether that’s helping kids with online school, caring for family members, etc,” she adds.
Working from home pros include no more commuting and more free time. Klemens says a con is not being able to work together in person.
“I work at a company that really cares about culture. And a lot of our culture has been about working together in-person – team activities, collaboration meetings, hanging out together at lunch, celebrating in person,” she says. “You can replicate some of that virtually, but it’s just not the same as seeing each other face to face.”
She says working from home can get lonely.
“The world is a stressful and scary place at times. Some of our people have felt really isolated during the pandemic,” Klemens shares.
When the pandemic hit, CHG had around 3,000 employees move to remote work over 10 days.
“Speaking for my own company, luckily we had some things in place – employees with laptops, the right software, etc. — but we certainly weren’t totally ready,” Klemens tells ABC4.
There were many technical elements that needed sorting out back in March. Thanks to a “great IT team we figured it out,” she adds.
Looking past the pandemic, Klemens says she thinks there will be a “major shift.”
“We’ve learned that the work from home experience has been way better for our employees than we thought it would be. Obviously, not everyone likes working from home, just like not everyone liked working in the office. But I think most people have had a good enough experience working from home that they’ll look for a hybrid approach after the pandemic, where they spend time working at both home and in the office, depending on what works best for them.”
On a personal note, Klemens says she likes working from home. She says it gives her more time with her children during the day.
“I don’t miss the commute. I feel like most days, I’m actually more productive,” she adds.
Klemens says even though she likes working from home, there have been some challenges.
“I spend five to six hours or more on Zoom each day, and it can be exhausting,” she shares. “I miss the casual interactions at work – chatting in the hall, running into people who you don’t work with directly.”
Chloe Hale is an Engineering Manager at Lucid. Lucid is the only visual collaboration suite that helps teams see and build the future from idea to reality and is headquartered in Utah, employing more than 650 employees.
Hale says a major pro that comes from working from home is fewer interruptions and more large chunks of time to focus. She says working from home can be harder for those who have kids or other family members at home.
Back in March when her company transitioned to remote working, Hale says she doesn’t think Utah was prepared for the transition but that her company Lucid handled the sudden change very well.
“Lucid, for instance, gave everyone a home office stipend to help employees improve their work from home environment. I think a lot of companies have been very conscientious about how remote work has affected their people and tried their best to help mitigate some of the bigger concerns,” Hale shares.
Looking past the pandemic, Hale says she feels it will be “very interesting to see how remote work in Utah continues.”
“I believe companies will be much more open to providing remote opportunities for their employees than they might’ve been before the pandemic. Companies are seeing that people can still contribute good work while being remote. That said, it’s hard to understate the value of in-person collaboration and relationships that only come through working in-office,” Hale adds.
“It is simply easier and more natural for coworkers to build great relationships and fluidly collaborate when they’re sitting near each other,” Hale tells ABC4.
She says post-pandemic post-pandemic Lucid will have a few days each week in office and a few remote.
“That will hopefully give us the best of both worlds: being able to collaborate in-person and still have the flexibility and focus that can come from working remotely,” she says.
Hale says she likes many aspects of at home work but misses the interactions she used to have in the office setting.
“I’m glad that I’ve worked at Lucid for long enough before the pandemic hit to have some deep relationships with people that have helped me through the move to the remote. I don’t think new hires have been as lucky,” Hale concludes.
Working from home has its pros and cons. Many enjoy the flexibility and no commute time but miss the interactions.
How do you feel about working from home? Let us know in the comments of our Facebook post below.