MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — According to a survey from Robert Half 77% of workers report working-from-home. It’s a huge shift that didn’t come by choice, but experts say it’s forcing companies to take a look what it means when people head back to the office.

So, what does the future of work look like? Good Question.

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“I think this is turning the heads of lots of CEOs and managers that were perhaps skeptical about this in the past,” Kate Lister, president of Global Workforce Analytics, said. “Employers are realizing it’s not as scary as they thought it was having done it.”

The team at First Class Mortgage in Maple Grove said the office went paperless after years of talking about it.

“It took this period of time where it forced us to make these changes,” Casey Van Winkle, president of First Class Mortgage, said.

At YWCA Minneapolis, the marketing team shifted from a live fundraiser to a virtual one in just six weeks.

“It was remarkable, it was really successful,” said Jacqueline Lloyd Cunningham, VP of marketing and communications at YWCA Minneapolis. “I think that’s shown us too the opportunity to expand our footprint if you will and expand our reach to broader audiences going forward.”

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WCCO reached out to more than a dozen of the Twin Cities largest employers. Most said they’re working on a return-to-work plan, but aren’t ready yet to share the details. Some said when employees do return to the office, it’ll happen slowly in phases or rotations.

Xcel Energy said it was also taking a fresh look at its work-from-home policies.

“We are discovering that many of our employees are just as productive — if not more so — working from home, so we are now looking at the possibility of expanding work-from-home arrangements where it makes sense in the longer term,” Xcel Energy spokesperson Matt Lindstrom said.

Lister says before the COVID-19 pandemic, less than 4% of employees were working from home half the time or more. Now, a survey from Robert Half reports 79% of workers say they want that option post-pandemic.

“My own prediction is that we’ll see about 30% of people working from home at 2 to 3 days a week, that seems to be the sweet spot,” Lister said, when asked what work might look like in two years. “It’s not an either-or, you’re never going to see your colleagues or you’ll be there all the time.”

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Ultimately, Lister said work-life balance is something companies will have to address more clearly in the future and that managers will have to be careful that people aren’t overworking and burning out.

Heather Brown