The new normal? Companies embrace having employees work from home beyond COVID-19

Local News

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — More Zoom meetings could be in your future as companies across the country are announcing plans to allow employees to work from home for much longer than just during the pandemic.

It’s a change to the workforce that wouldn’t have been possible 10 to 15 years ago but with the help of technology, working from home could be more permanent.

“We have the luxury that we can work from home and many others don’t. Restaurants, hairdresser, supermarkets, they have to be out there,” Elephant Insurance CEO Alberto Schiavon told 8News on Friday. “And we owe it to them to stay home.”

Earlier this month, Richmond-based Elephant Insurance announced that they would give employees the option to work from home for the rest of 2020. Schiavon said it’s about keeping employees safe and that productivity has been up since.

“We also wanted to give them the piece of mind that they could do that for an extended period of time,” Schiavon explained.

But it’s not just here in Richmond, it’s happening across the country. Last week, Twitter announced that workers can stay home “forever” if they want and this week Facebook said half of its employees could be remote within five to 10 years.

“Ten or 20 years ago, it would’ve been just impossible,” Schiavon said.

Elephant Insurance says it has more than 650 employees working from home during the pandemic. Going forward, making remote work a permanent change is not off the table, according to Schiavon.

“We are certainly learning a new skill and also many of us are learning this actually works and we can make it work,” he said.

8News also learned Friday that another company in Richmond is going fully remote. Nationwide Insurance confirmed it’s closing its office in the city by Nov. 1. A spokesperson for the company shared the following statement on why Nationwide decided to close its Richmond office:

“This transition to a hybrid operating model that comprises primarily working-from-office in four main corporate campuses and working-from-home in most other locations is all about coming out of this crisis prepared to win business, while enhancing our resiliency and operational efficiency,” the statement read. “We believe that we are fully able to make this pivot based on prior technology investments and upgrades and our workforce readiness.”

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