It's all about the trade-off: what you gain vs. what you give up.
Workers gain the flexibility of not having to commute every day, but they give up some flexibility when email monitoring expectations creep beyond traditional hours.
A lot of employers were concerned about a drop-off in productivity, Brown said, because they wouldn't be able to visually monitor activity, but for a number of reasons, that hasn't been a problem. That realization has freed companies such as Ford and Toyota to rethink where work gets done.
Brown said she's hopeful that greater workplace flexibility, in the roles where it's feasible, can create opportunities for workers with disabilities and preserve them for parents — usually moms — who make sacrifices in their careers when family demands arise at home.
"It may very well give employers a much larger potential work force of very good employees that they might not have been able to consider before," she said.
Brown noted that one reason people are more productive at home is that they have less socialization and general chitchat with each other. But at the same time, creative ideas can come from those casual exchanges, so they add value that isn't immediately apparent.
Dana White, chief communications officer at Hyundai Motor North America, said she is missing those interactions. While vice presidents are back at work in the company's Fountain Valley, Calif., headquarters, few others are. White, who joined the company last April, still hasn't met some of her staff members in person, she said.
"The challenge is not having that human connection," White said. "I hope we can get back to that soon."