Working from home was slowly gaining traction before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there were still plenty of concerns about productivity, security (e.g. keeping confidential IP under tight wraps), employee wellbeing, team morale and more.
However, when lockdowns hit, organizations who were not prepared for remote working had to invest in new infrastructure and processes to adapt. Changes included everything from security measures to protect IP to buying employees new home workstation gear — and the results from over a year of remote working have proven there has been a huge shift in both employee and employer attitudes to working from home.
According to a survey of 1,000 workers, the majority (78 percent ) feels that working from home or having some kind of hybrid work schedule was best. More than a third (35 percent) of respondents felt that their productivity was unaffected when working from home, and nearly 40 percent actually felt more productive.
This insight was most significant among directors, with 96 percent of upper management reporting the same or more productivity at home; however, it was felt across the board regardless of position. In fact, the C-Suite is more likely to continue to work at home, while middle management is less likely to continue remote work.
For those who preferred a hybrid arrangement, the primary reasons for wanting time in the office were for better collaboration (60 percent ) and to interact with other people at work (56 percent). Other factors included maintaining working relationships (41 percent) and having a better workstation or set-up (36 percent).
For those who wanted to continue working from home full-time, the biggest concerns cited were:
- Proximity to other people.
- Office hygiene.
- Protective measures.
- Contact with other people during their commute to the workplace.
Some respondents noted that they have always worked remotely, so they did not feel the transition to remote work pandemic measures. “My whole company works from home, I’ve never worked in an office,” said social care worker Kate, who lives in Texas.
There is only a small majority (22 percent) of the workforce who remained in-office for their work during the pandemic. And, of the workers who are not back at the workplace full time, 45 percent expect to be back to office life within 6 months.
People in creative or professional services felt the most strongly about working from home. Understandably, a quarter of people in the service industry and in industrial sectors felt that they were less productive working from home.
Regionally, in the West, Midwest, Northeast and Southeast, almost half of respondents said they preferred to work at home. Almost half of respondents in the Southwest said they preferred a hybrid work environment.
Additionally, the majority of workers in the West, Southeast, Southwest, and Northeast stated they had concerns about returning to the workforce full time. The majority of workers in the Midwest did not have concerns about returning to the workplace full time.
And, workers have included new reasons to return to the workplace, including: better collaboration with colleagues; more human interaction; maintain relationships with clients and stakeholders; to have more fact-to-face contact with managers and mentors; and to have access to a better office and workstation set-up.
Workers most desire these measures for working in the office:
- Digital proof of vaccination.
- Limiting the number of people on-site.
- No-touch door entries.
- Contract tracing.
- Provided masks, sanitizer and other protective gear.
- Increased cleaning protocols.
- Enforced physical distancing.