Don’t blink now, but 2021 is just over the horizon. We can finally put 2020 behind us…or can we? In an interesting twist, some of the “strangest” aspects of this crazy year might end up becoming the new normal, and for most remote workers that sounds like it actually might be a relief.
During the last two weeks in October, BlueJeans surveyed 140 professionals from across the globe to capture current sentiment around WFH productivity and culture. The findings shine a light on many of the benefits that remote workers have experienced over the past 10 months that have resulted in achieving new levels of productivity, and surprisingly, an overall strengthening of corporate culture.
Perhaps most important is that once we arrive in a post-pandemic world, the survey participants on average expect to work remotely 13.9 workdays a month going forward. In fact, 75.4% of our respondents would be satisfied with a full-time WFH situation. This is a dramatic shift from the pre-pandemic era and suggests that people not only really dislike commuting, but they have seemed to crack the code when it comes to performing their jobs at a high-level, while staying connected with their colleagues and business associates. Similarly, only 30% of survey participants acknowledged they would be satisfied being back in the office full-time…reinforcing that the tide has turned in favor of remote flexibility.
And this is for good reason! 85.2% of survey respondents feel they are equally or more productive now than before the pandemic. Universally, the survey respondents agreed that with fewer in-office distractions, they now have more time for focused work and creative thinking, which is unlocking new-found levels of productivity. Perhaps unsurprisingly, remote workers struggled the most with cross-functional collaboration, as well as a feeling that they do spend too much time in meetings. But overwhelmingly, the positives outweigh the negatives, and workers that are actively using the WFH environment to deliver more thoughtful and creative work are finding much success.
Now, it’s not just about working from home, it’s about having the right gear at home to get the job done. Considering the overnight transformation that occurred throughout the workforce, it makes sense that 79.3% of survey respondents invested in new home office equipment since social distancing took root. More than half of our survey participants purchased new chairs and desks, highlighting the critical nature of these bare necessities for being productive. Maybe most surprising, was that individuals that purchased new whiteboards were 22.5% more productive than remote workers who had not made a similar investment. This finding correlates with the fact that workers are gaining productivity benefits via focused time and creative thinking, optimal scenarios for leveraging a whiteboard.
While the benefits of remote worker productivity have been touted by more progressive -minded individuals for years, there have always been concerns about the cultural implication of this staffing approach. We were pleasantly surprised to see that 81% of survey participants felt their company culture was equal to or stronger than pre-pandemic levels. While this is obviously a subjective metric, it’s fascinating that there was such a high degree of acceptance that culture has not been destroyed by WFH. From a results perspective, it’s interesting to note that organizations are participating in many different types of communication & social efforts to keep employees engaged and aligned, but some are more impactful than others. Company-wide all hands meetings have the power to improve culture by 16.8%, while encouraging informal water cooler chats between employees can lead to a 21.2% culture boost. Perhaps the biggest takeaway for culture, was that the organizations that simply do something in the spirit of keeping their teams connected can have a 34.5% impact when it comes to cultural improvements, regardless of the tactic implemented. Most organizations have figured this out, but for those struggling after months of remote work, we’d greatly encourage investing in some virtual events to bring folks together.
Ultimately, organizations and remote workers have adapted to make the most of their WFH experience. It’s clear that eliminating the commute and giving employees the opportunity to focus without the distractions of the office are having positive implications. Simultaneously, organizations are successfully driving communication outreach programs to stay in front of team members in both formal and informal settings. Adopting these types approaches will ensure that your organization is prepared to transition to a hybrid work future, where workers are spending nearly 14 workdays out of the month at home. While most of us were stuck inside during the pandemic, it’s clear that remote work was blooming all around us, and a new future work experience waits for us on the other side of 2020.