Virus Outbreak Kansas

Erik Wray works on his computer in the back yard of his home last year. A new study suggests workers in Arizona are better positioned than their counterparts in other states to work remotely.

The pandemic has altered multiple scenarios in our life, from the way we socialize to the way we approach everyday tasks. One of the prominent changes has to do with the way we work.

For some of us, work disappeared, as businesses shut down early in 2020 and have struggled to recover. For others, the work environment switched from an office setting to a home-based office.

According to WalletHub, a personal finance website, only 20% of people who were able to work from home did so pre-pandemic. That number has now risen to 71%, and 54% say they would want to continue working from home once COVID-19 is in the rearview mirror.

If working from home becomes in vogue, Arizona might have a step up on the situation. According to a recent WalletHub analysis, the Grand Canyon State ranks No. 6 among the best states for remote work, trailing just Delaware, North Carolina, Georgia, New Hampshire and Tennessee. The website considered 12 key metrics in two main areas: work environment and living environment. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale.

Arizona ranked sixth in work environment and 24th in living environment. Colorado was first in work environment while Georgia topped the rankings in living environment.

The state we live in appears well-positioned for working at home expansion. A potential stumbling block: Internet cost.

Arizona had a leg up before COVID-19. The share of the workforce already working from home was 6.5%, which ranked seventh in the U.S. The share of potential telecommuters is 95.14%, and the state ranks 12th in cybersecurity.

However, Arizona is 46th in access to a low-priced internet plan and 44th in internet cost. Establishing a home office doesn’t appear to be difficult. The state is 20th in space per person per household (626.87 square feet) and the average home size ranks 14th (1,824.33 square feet).

What does all this mean for the future? Only time will tell. However, WalletHub sought comments from business and management experts on what may develop with telecommuting and traditional job environments.

“Will remote jobs be easier to come by after the Coronavirus crisis has ended? I should hope so, but my concern is that many companies will quietly let employees pick up the tab for equipment and supplies under these conditions and then boast about the cost-savings to their shareholders,” says Peter D. Harms, an associate professor at the University of Alabama.

“Along similar lines, I worry that even as remote jobs are more likely to be created or seen as a viable alternative to regular at-work employment, that this will result in disparate job opportunities between those who can afford to set-up effective remote work environments and those who cannot.”

Yemisi Awotoye, an assistant professor of management at Gonzaga University, says workers must be ready for changes.

“Mental preparation is perhaps the most overlooked form of preparation needed,” she says. “Given that most people are used to going out to work and returning home to rest, the drastic shift in how the home space is conceived as a working space requires some effort. To achieve this, it is highly recommended that you develop a routine and schedule that delineates work time from home time.”

“As a principle, it is always better to prepare for an opportunity that never comes than to be unprepared and miss an opportunity that comes. If we have learned anything from COVID, it is the fact that the organizations that had established remote work systems and infrastructure in place for their workers before CIVID hit found it easier to transition and deal with the challenges of COVID.”