A new research paper by the Productivity Commission discussed how the pandemic 'forced' businesses and employees to integrate working from home into their working lives.

Up to 40% of firms had to adapt to working from home, which has led to a shift in people's preferences according to the report.

Particularly, it was revealed that one of the most beneficial aspects of working from home is that it saves people time and money.

Specifically, full-time workers in major cities spend, on average, 67 minutes commuting to and from their jobs each day.

This is equal to an average of $49 in foregone earnings each day.

Additionally, for people that take public transport into work, the average 'time value and transport' cost came in at $57 per day.

The report revealed that going into work one day less per week over one year would save the average worker seven working days in travel time, and $394 in public transport costs.

This time saved creates more free time for other activities including more work, exercise, household chores, and spending time with family.

There are, however, 'actual or perceived costs' of working from home.

These costs include reduced opportunities for networking, reduced face-to-face interaction with managers, and consequences for long-term career prospects.

Workers want a 'hybrid mix' for the best of both worlds

Despite the costs mentioned, many employees still highly value working from home, and are willing to change jobs or accept lower wages to continue working from home. 

A survey of 1,000 people by LinkedIn also revealed that around 43% want a 'hybrid mix' of working remotely and from the office.

Almost a third of respondents (32%) said they wanted to return to their office full-time, but wanted flexibility of hours and other perks in return.

Before returning the office, approximately 66% of respondents said that they want COVID-19 vaccines to be mandatory.

What will the future look like post-pandemic?

The Productivity Commission predicts that workers and firms will negotiate and find 'mutually-agreeable outcomes', at least in the short term.

Many firms are likely to integrate a hybrid approach, where employees work from the office two or three days per week.

This approach is 'intuitively appealing' as it balances the benefits and drawbacks of both working remotely and from the office.

However, the report says this might be difficult to execute well in reality.

The report points out that people can change and choose jobs that suit their preferences into the future.

According to survey data from the United States, 40% of people would find another job if their employer asked them to return to the office full-time.

Over time, creating successful innovations is likely to reduce the costs of working from home and limit the risk of lower productivity feared by employers.

The report says that the wellbeing benefits of working from home provides 'clear' and 'strong' incentives to make it work.

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