EUGENE, Ore. -- Empty office buildings and empty downtown streets have become a common sight during the COVID-19 pandemic with many employees working from home.
Instead, those people are now relying on tools like Zoom and Slack to keep in contact with co-workers and clients. But could that practice keep up long after the virus is under control?
"Working from home is not going to go away, even before the pandemic, it was growing by double digits," said Jim Farnsworth with SYKES, a global business process outsourcing company.
Farnsworth's been researching working from home for more than a decade.
In a survey the company did with 3,000 workers on March 30-April 1, 68% said they were working from home and 39.5% said they felt like they weren't as productive.
"(Companies are) going to have to have a business continuity strategy that includes technology, physical location, and virtual work," Farnsworth said.
Bri Bridges is director of marketing and PR at Pipeworks Studios, a Eugene-based software company that works with video game developers. She said all 130 of their employees started working from home in mid-March.
"We were impressed by how well and how easy the transition was," Bridges said.
Farnsworth said companies are starting to take note of the benefits of having to not come to the office, and commercial real estate companies should be worried.
"Smaller need for office space means I'm not spending as much money on supplies, equipment, furniture, and rent," Farnsworth said.
Farnsworth said another benefit for companies having employees work from home is an increased labor pool. He said companies can now look outside their local community to find the right employees.
But what about taking to the skies for those cross-country business trips? Farnsworth said while that could slow down, he doesn't believe it's gone for good.
The products and services they buy from me are very people-driven, and they need to see them and feel them and understand how it operates," Farnsworth said.
For Pipeworks Studios, Bridges said they're keeping their options open when it comes to how they'll do business in the future.
"Right now it's too early to tell, I think we are in a time where this is many unknowns," Bridges said.
It's an unknown future that may require some new innovations.