I Asked 2,000 People About Their Remote Work Experience – Here’s What They Shared
We have now been a year into a massive remote work experiment driven by necessity and marked by trial and error. Now, as businesses assess their future with remote work, leaders must shift from helping their business survive virtual work to helping their employees thrive while working from home.
To take the pulse of the current state of remote work and help predict the future of the model, I surveyed 2,000 professionals – including CEOs, department heads, managers and individual contributors – to learn more about their remote work experiences. Here are some of the key findings:
Remote work is here to stay
While companies as large as Twitter and drop box have already committed to a remote-friendly future, others remain skeptical. Netflix CEO Reid Hastings refers to remote work as “a pure negative”, while the CEO of Goldman Sachs David Solomon called him, “an aberration that we will correct as soon as possible.” Their comments sparked questions about the prevalence of remote work in the future.
The survey data indicated quite clearly that most employees did not want to return to the office every day, if not almost every day. While 52% of respondents worked in an office every day before the pandemic, only 2% want to return to the office full time. In fact, 68% of respondents specified that they wanted to work from home most of the time or every day.
Employers may believe they can snap their fingers and call all employees back to the office after the pandemic. But if they haven’t checked with their employees, they could be making a strategic mistake.
Many employees will be willing to leave an in-person company to pursue remote work opportunities, and they will find many more virtual companies than they ever could have before the pandemic. Rather than assuming remote work is a fad, leaders should listen to their employees and consider that remote work can help them attract and retain talent in a post-pandemic world.
A second goal of the survey was to find out people’s preferred benefits of remote work. I shared a selection of remote benefits and asked respondents to select any that they found useful. While you might not be surprised that almost 83% of people like to avoid their commute, almost as many (82%) also appreciate the flexibility that remote working offers.
Employees saw flexibility as a benefit even when a global pandemic restricted our movements or required many of us to work with running children during lockdown. What workers will soon realize is that the autonomy offered by remote working is much more valuable during normal times, when it’s easy to go for a run during lunch, get back to school during breaks or take a yoga class in the middle of the day to balance your day.
As a leader or manager, think about how you can maximize the flexibility your team has, without compromising work results. You can allow employees to travel the world and work remotely, or design a custom schedule that works for both them and the business. The flexibility offered by remote work could go a long way towards fostering more engaged and well-rounded employees.
Create a separation
Of course, the survey also measured the pain points felt by remote workers. While varied, one was particularly common: 59% of respondents, regardless of role, said they tended to overwork themselves and not take breaks throughout the day when working from home.
While many new remote workers worry that their personal life will encroach on their work, the fallout often goes in the opposite direction: we find it hard to stop working after the workday is over and even before she doesn’t start. An office environment offers several social cues to help us relax: seeing when co-workers start and end their working day, or following them for lunch or coffee breaks. Without these cues, many remote workers find themselves sinking into one task after another, only to find they’ve been working since they got up and have now worked through dinner.
One way to ease this burden is to put clear boundaries between your work and personal life. Establish a clear schedule, with a consistent start and end to the workday. Stick to a morning routine, rather than jumping straight into emails. It even helps to simulate an evening commute: if you end your workday with 20 minutes of meditation, a brisk walk outside, or even a light read, you’ll establish a mental boundary between work and personal life.
To complete this commuting effect, it is also helpful to physically separate your workspace. Even if you don’t have a spare room to use as a desk, designating a desk in the corner of your living room as your workspace or having an assigned “desk chair” at the kitchen table helps separate your work. and your personal life. .
As we approach a light at the end of our pandemic tunnel, it is becoming clear that many employees want to continue working remotely in the future. Companies that can effectively execute this workplace model are the ones that will attract and retain top talent. Those who are inflexible, or who demand 100% in-person work, are likely to find a dwindling talent pool looking for that value proposition.
Robert is the founder and CEO of Acceleration Partners. Join over 200,000 global leaders who follow his inspirational weekly newsletter Friday before Where invite him to speak. Robert is also a Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author. His new book, How to Thrive in the Virtual Workplace, is now available for pre-order.