In March 2020, the world was changed in a way that no one could have imagined. Because of the international pandemic caused by COVID-19, it was no longer safe to interact with people outside of our household. It caused an unprecedented shift in the amount of public relations professionals working from home.
One year later, COVID-19 cases are still high despite the mass production of vaccines. High amounts of COVID-19 cases have led to a unique workplace phenomenon. Employees of companies, who are not essential, are allowed to work from home or go back to the office. This opportunity to choose where they want to work gives employees the autonomy they may have never experienced before. Some employees are even working on a hybrid schedule, splitting their time between the office and their homes.
For years, it has been widely accepted that employees are more productive in the workplace. Studies conducted continued to confirm this construal. A study conducted by the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization found that those who had monotonous jobs performed better in the office. However, the same study found that those in creative positions were more productive working from home. Working in a comfortable environment gives employees room for creative expression.
This consensus has changed in 2021. With the improvement of technology, employees no longer need the external motivation of other coworkers to push them to perform their duties. A Stanford study conducted over 9 months in 2020, found that employees were 13% more effective working from home. In addition to the improved efficiency of employees, job satisfaction increases as well.
For public relations professionals, many of whom have creative-oriented jobs, now have an unprecedented amount of autonomy, allowing them to enhance their work-life balance. Many organizations have allowed employees to decide when or if they want to come back to work. Agencies are in no rush to bring their employees back to the office. This may become the new normal for public relations professionals.
Rebekah Corwin is a senior from New Albany, Ind., double majoring in public relations and psychology. Corwin is an associate with Fifth Street Communications®, a student-run public relations agency at Anderson University.