One of the most significant outcomes from the pandemic is the large number of employees who had to leave the office and work from home. But even as things return to normal, it is the newfound desire of many not to return to the office, but to continue working from home. They have grown accustomed to the benefits and even the challenges of working remotely.

Surveys report 80% of employees now want to work from home at least some of the time. Data from the United States Census Bureau shows that approximately one-third of U.S. households work from home more frequently than before the COVID-19 pandemic. Among those with a bachelor’s degree or higher, 61.7% of households reported at least one member switching from in-person work to telework.

Reports also indicate that these remote workers, mostly white-collar employees, are more productive and work even more hours than they did when having to commute to and from home—sometimes for well over two hours round trip. These workers are falling in love with the lifestyle that working from home affords them.

They say they have more time to spend with their families, pursue lifestyle options they could not do when working and commuting. Some have even sold their homes and moved to more idyllic places or even live and work out converted vans as they travel the country!

Technology has been the linchpin to the success of distance working and many people do not see a rationale to return to the office when they can be equally or more productive working away from the office. According to Pew Research, 65% of teleworkers who use remote communication technologies such as video conferencing or instant messaging think online tools are a good substitute for in-person contact.

Now that the tide has somewhat turned, some midsized employers are demanding that workers return to the office. But, at the same time, some large and well-known organizations have told their employees that they’ll never need to return to the office.

What motivates certain employers to return to the old days, while others are adopting flex working conditions or full-distance working arrangements?

In many cases, it’s a matter of inflexibility and even the belief that employees who work from home are less productive and are not responsible enough to put in a full day’s work. It comes down to a matter of trust. It also stems from two other issues that sometimes occur when teams work remotely:

  • Information gaps… when teams are scattered, it can be more difficult to accurately measure performance. Who is supposed to be doing what… which can often get lost in the noise of everyday business is the question. Without employees on-site, and the number of personal interactions fewer than when they are in the office, information silos can develop.
  • Poor communication… when information about what is happening on a weekly or monthly basis is unevenly distributed across team members, collaboration can become more difficult, particularly when there is no framework in place to foster it.

But there are online tools that can make accountability for completion of tasks and projects on time and with quality possible and efficient. One of the most robust tools is The One Page Planning and Performance System (TOPPPS). The system helps measure and track what is important and ensures that key employees understand what results they are responsible for and when. TOPPPS is a management and results-oriented cloud-based platform that helps ensure plans and goals created at the beginning of the year are implemented and achieved. It’s designed primarily for leadership teams; it is especially suited for remote teams.

Another tool is its new one-on-one feature designed to help leaders keep track of associates’ progress on objectives and action plans. The plans become transformational as managers, employees, and supervisors discuss hard facts in a structured manner. Employees can use the systems preloaded templates to effectively write objectives and action plans, and report results graphically in an easy-to-understand format. Both the supervisor and associate can share a computer screen to review the progress of the employee fulfilling the various objectives and action plans for which the employee is accountable. Viewing results and discussing them creates a meaningful and structured discussion between both parties who are literally on the same page as the conversation occurs.