#17 – Inside Our Industry – What 12,000 Employees Have to Say About the Future of Remote WorkPosted on | Inside Our Industry
As you may know, we at Agracel have been primarily working remotely since the coronavirus pandemic began in March. A few colleagues come into the office a few hours every day, while others come in a few days each week. Regular company-wide and department Zoom meetings have kept everyone in the loop. We miss the personal interaction with our co-workers, but we are doing our best to keep everyone, including our families, safe and healthy. We do not know how long we will be working remotely, but we are encouraged by the results of a recent Boston Consulting Group survey that we feel mirrors our current situation. Below are excerpts from that survey.
What 12,000 Employees Have to Say About the Future of Remote Work
August 11, 2020 | Andriana Dahik, Deborah Lovich, Caroline Kreafle, Allison Bailey, Julie Kilmann, Derek Kennedy, Prateek Roongta, Felix Schulter, Leo Tomlin, and John Wenstrup
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has led to economic, health, and social devastation, it has also created an unprecedented opportunity: to run the world’s biggest-ever workplace experiment. This experience is yielding fascinating insights that have significant implications for the way we should organize work.
To assess employee sentiment on these changes, from the end of May through mid-June we surveyed more than 12,000 professionals employed before and during COVID-19 in the US, Germany, and India. The respondents work in roles such as analysts, engineers, HR personnel, teachers, and health care providers (but generally not in jobs performed onsite such as cashiers or assembly line workers). We explored their attitudes toward flexibility, productivity (on individual, collaborative, and managerial tasks), well-being, career security, social connectivity, culture, learning and development, and the work tools they use.
It’s now clear that business as usual will be different in the world of work. But if, as our survey suggests, employee productivity is possible at the height of the pandemic with little to no training or preparation, some of the new ways of working could be continued in the post-COVID-19 world. Understanding the drivers of productivity in this new environment and designing appropriate, sustainable working models are crucial to the success of work—both today and tomorrow.
THE PRODUCTIVITY QUESTION
While this is a subjective productivity indicator, the data is still striking. Some 75% of employees said that during the first few months of the pandemic they have been able to maintain or improve productivity on their individual tasks (such as analyzing data, writing presentations, and executing administrative tasks). On collaborative tasks (including exchanges with coworkers, working in teams, and interacting with clients), the number is lower. But even so, more than half—51%—of all respondents said they have been able to maintain or improve their productivity on collaborative tasks. What’s more, this applies across geographic areas as well as to both remote employees and those who have remained mostly onsite—indicating that changes to the ways of working are having an impact across the board.
We found four factors that correlate with employee perceptions of their productivity on collaborative tasks, whether working remotely or onsite: social connectivity, mental health, physical health, and workplace tools.
An impressive 79% of respondents who indicated they are satisfied or doing better on all four of these factors said they have been able to maintain or improve productivity on collaborative tasks.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR EMPLOYERS
Our findings suggest that the future of work will be increasingly hybrid. And this presents both challenges and opportunities: to reimagine the entire employee experience and to create conditions that allow employees to thrive in the workplace of the future—one that will be far less office centric. This means developing new hybrid working models that enable employees to move seamlessly between onsite and remote work, as well as thinking about the appropriate physical space—both size and shape—for the hybrid office.
WINNERS IN THE NEW REALITY
This crisis has presented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reinvent the workplace. Things that might once have seemed impossible have proved surprisingly workable. With collaborative productivity essential to innovation, the changes will enable companies to become more competitive. And given employee desires for flexibility, the changes will also allow companies to recruit and retain the best talent.
Moreover, focusing on well-being and social connectivity will serve another important purpose: helping employees to recover faster from what, for so many people, has been a traumatic, painful, and stressful period. And that is not only good for business—it is good for people.