American Consequences - August 2020

A BIRD IN THE HAND

could be fully depleted by the mid-2030s. The simple math is that Social Security “bankruptcy” results from retirees drawing from a program that doesn’t have sufficient assets or future contribution levels. No politician has attempted to reduce the benefits of retirees under Social Security and lived another term to tell the tale. People value the bird they have now far more than the “benefit” Americans could enjoy (the two birds in the bush) from getting control over grossly excessive government spending. Employers are realizing that those issues around security, productivity, and collaboration are surmountable. And employees are recognizing they can be just as (if not more) productive from home. There’s a New Bird in Hand While this may not be a government benefit this time, in the last five months there is a new benefit that has emerged for Americans and those around the world. It’s going to be next to impossible to take away... This has amplified a trend creating entirely new parts of the economy and has wiped out industries that have been around for decades and centuries. I’m talking about telecommuting, or “Work From Home.”

Companies have historically been hesitant to allow telecommuting. Concerns have been raised about everything from worker productivity to reduced collaboration with the idea that face-to-face in-person meetings are a necessity. Other issues include real- world security issues over corporate and client secrets. Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer brought all the company’s home-based workers back to the office in 2013. At the time, they had a perception of reduced productivity and collaboration. Most employers shared that perspective, too. There has historically been a social stigma of working from home among fellow employees – the perception that their colleagues are less responsive, may be slacking off, and are in general not part of the team. This is all despite research that shows telecommuting is often more productive. Employees who work from home have found themselves to be less distracted than they were in the office (29% of those surveyed), more motivated to work extra hours to show their value (23%), and have more time for work and the rest of their lives because of reduced commutes. Now, regardless of the research, coronavirus has forced companies and their employees to implement and understand work-from-home programs. There’s been no other option. Employers are realizing that those issues around security, productivity, and collaboration are surmountable. And employees are recognizing they can be just as

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August 2020

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