News Story

Move Toward Home-Based Businesses Accelerates

‘The pandemic has only made it more obvious’

The shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic changed the face of most business operations in an instant. Over one million Michigan residents have filed for unemployment so far, as production has ground to a halt and businesses have shuttered office buildings.

But the shutdown hasn’t brought all nonessential businesses to a screeching halt. In fact, some entrepreneurs believe that the pandemic has ushered in a more efficient – albeit very different – means for accomplishing their workloads.

Rochester Hills resident Todd R. Callaway, owner of Callaway Designs, is an independent contractor who is currently working for an architectural firm in Okemos. He has been self-employed for the past 26 years.

“The jobs I am working on are not considered essential, therefore I am not considered essential,” Callaway said. “Since architectural work predominantly can be done anywhere, myself and most of the people that I work with have not stopped working.”

Before the pandemic, Callaway worked primarily from home. Once or twice per week, he also used the office space he shares with two other independent contractors to collaborate or meet with clients.

Since COVID-19 hit, he has stopped going into the office altogether, and has used teleconferencing and other business tools. The transition has been fairly seamless, and Callaway and his teammates still have plenty of work to carry them into 2021.

“So far this pandemic has had little effect on our bottom line, however in another month or so we will start to see its real effects,” he said.

More than anything, Callaway believes, the shutdown has forced employers to consider moving their workforces to being predominately home-based, a concept that could have long-lasting effects.

“Transitioning our workforce to being predominantly home-based is one of those very scary ideas that we have been forced to experience in short order,” he explained.

Working from home is a concept that most employers are quick to rebuff, he said.

“Really it gets down to one basic assumption,” Callaway said. “If I can’t see my employees, then how do I know if they are working? They are probably having a two-hour lunch with the beers flowing while I pay for it.”

But many employers have found such assumptions to be inaccurate.

“For many years, employers have been eliminating full-time employees and hiring contract workers,” he noted. “Most employees who work from home generally work longer hours, tend to be happier, and are more productive than their office-based counterparts.”

Callaway said that using a predominantly work-from-home model could reduce expenses for many businesses by eliminating the need for buildings filled with cubicles and millions of dollars of equipment and office furniture.

“We hope that this pandemic will give employers a glimpse of what a true modern work force should look like,” he said.

“Cost savings will eventually drive employers to overcome their fears of transitioning to a predominantly home-based work force,” Callaway added. “This win/win scenario is the future of our workforce … and the pandemic has only made it more obvious.”

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.