Does Telework Affect Workplace Absences and Employee Well-Being?

Jai Hooker@Work

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Does Telework Affect Workplace Absences and Employee Well-Being?

By Justine Ahle, MS, Senior Product Manager, MDGuidelines; Kerri Wizner, MPH, Assistant Director, Epidemiology, MDGuidelines

While the evolution of work has been constant, COVID-19 was a significant catalyst in making the traditional office model more flexible. Now, the question is whether that will last as employers seek to return employees to traditional offices. Before the pandemic, nearly half of U.S. workers could telework if they needed to do so. But this rate varied significantly by demographics and industry, with less than a quarter of employees working from home most or all of the time.1,2 However, during the height of the pandemic, nearly 70% of full-time workers were doing their jobs from home.2,3 

As company executives debate whether they should offer hybrid or remote options, data shows a mixed picture of how telework affects employee health and wellness and does confirm that work-from-home (WFH) options save everyone money.

Companies that continue to offer telework are likely to have the upper hand in recruiting and keeping talent, which is important given that nearly 12 million jobs in the U.S. were unfilled as of June 2022.4 Recent research shows that more than 90% of employees want to work remotely at least part time after the pandemic, and 30% would consider leaving their jobs if asked to return to in-office work full time.5 Numerous large companies are now offering permanent WFH or hybrid, flexible work models, including 3M, Lyft, Twitter, and Meta.

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