Workforce Solutions

What Employees Are Saying About The Future of Remote Work

Cogent Infotech
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Since 2020, there has been a consistent demand for remote employment. Companies and employees have seen its advantages in many industries. FlexJobs’ 2022 Career Pulse Survey reveals that 87% of respondents feel that remote work options have already enhanced their work-life balance.

Only 2 out of 10 people are working on-site, according to a Gallup survey conducted in June 2022. Additionally, an AT&T study indicated that the hybrid work culture is anticipated to increase from 42% in 2021 to 81% in 2024.

As businesses prepare for what comes next after the pandemic, many are adapting to hybrid virtual work models that include a combination of time spent in the office and remote work. This makes sense after seeing the productivity gains from the previous years.

However, despite an increase in productivity, many workers claim to feel stressed and exhausted. The productivity increases observed during the pandemic might not last in the long run if executives don't address the causes of employee anxiety.

This article delves into the main source of employee anxiety: Employers are yet to share concrete guidelines, policies, and expectations around post-COVID-19 working arrangements. They need to communicate more often with employees about their plans for enabling remote work, which has been shown to improve employee well-being and productivity.

Work From Home vs Work From Office

As workplaces become more creative and flexible, employees are mainly concerned about maintaining stability in their professional lives despite the changing ways of work. 

Source


64% of employees feel they are more productive at home than in the office because they have designed their work lives for maximum productivity, side hustles, and family time.

Due to workplace differences and family obligations, about 20% of working people prefer to work in traditional physical offices.

Let's take a look at some of the parameters that affect an employee's ability to work productively in remote settings vs in-office settings:

Back to office 

In a report, People at Work 2022: A Global Workforce View, 64% of respondents stated they would rather quit than return to a full-time job in the office.

E.g. Recently, Apple made an effort to get workers back into the office, but the move was swiftly met with a letter from multiple workers complaining that it was "inefficient, rigid, and a waste of time."

People want to work from the office due to reasons like having a better workspace setup, being more visible to leadership, having better access to resources and tools, and improving overall well-being. According to a study by Office Depot, 64% of people prefer hybrid work to leverage the best of both worlds.

40-hour work week

80% of people prefer flexible work schedules over the traditional 9 to 5. Employers must be deliberate and put their people first to keep and recruit outstanding talent.

Employees prefer to work from the office due to the better working environment. Also, in-office employees work only during their shifts, whereas flexible work schedules could be more hectic as employees tend to work late hours, which could lead to burnout.

Benefits 

Working from home has many benefits, such as greater work flexibility, a reduced need to travel, opportunities to save money, improved productivity, and fewer employment barriers.

Employees working from the office have multiple benefits, such as learning at a faster pace face-to-face with the senior leaders. They also have a better bonding with their team and access to in-office benefits like free lunch and office trips.

Networking

Remote employees can network with their coworkers remotely on various platforms, including Telegram and Instagram groups. They can also bond over virtual "water cooler" sessions.

Working with colleagues within the same physical location enhances team bonding, collaboration, and productivity. Employees can connect with people they may not interact with daily—and such spontaneous conversations can improve decision-making and efficiency.  

Team Building 

Working from home is best for introverts who prefer a quiet space that is free of interruptions. They don't have to engage in office chit-chat, and also have time to think through their responses.

Coworkers in an office have a variety of ways to communicate:

  • Brief meetings at the desk
  • Quick corridor catch-ups
  • Lunch break

Since working remotely eliminates many of these social connections, it can affect company culture.

Factors Impacting the Future of Work

Remote work may lead to an increase in productivity, but certain employee expectations will impact workplace dynamics. Here are some of the factors impacting the future of work:

Inclusivity

Organizations that have more comprehensive and remote-relevant policies and approaches have higher growth. Employees who feel involved in detailed communication about post-COVID policies and processes are about five times more likely to report an increase in productivity. Leaders should consider increasing the frequency of their employee updates—both for sharing decisions that have been made and for providing updates about what is still uncertain

Poor communication

‍After the COVID-19 pandemic, a detailed vision is very valuable for employees. While 40% of employees say their companies have not communicated any vision, 28% say their companies were vague about the post-pandemic vision. Only 32% of employees reported that their companies had shared an in-depth vision plan. Additionally, remote work considerably reduces communication, which can often challenge collaboration and team bonding.

Flexibility for Hybrid working

52% of employees prefer a flexible hybrid virtual working model where employees work partly on-premises and partly remotely. A hybrid model helps organizations retain talent, lower costs, and strengthen organizational performance. â€More than half of government and corporate workers say they prefer to work from home for at least three days a week after the COVID-19 pandemic. US workers are most interested in remote work and want to work remotely full-time. 

Talent exodus

‍If organization were to fully return to working on-site, 30% of employees said they would consider quitting. However, these employees may continue to keep an eye on company policies, and whether they quit would depend on factors like the role of automation in transforming people's core tasks, and the availability of better-paying jobs elsewhere.

Family

Employees with small children are most likely to prefer flexible work locations. Only 8% of employees say that they want to see fully on-site mode in the future. Employees without children below 18 years of age are nearly three times more likely to prefer on-site work, but the majority of this group of employees still prefers flexible work models. 

Concerns about the future

Employees are hopeful that organizations will continue to be flexible even after the epidemic is over in terms of competitive compensation, overall well-being, and work hours. They're also concerned that returning to on-site work, or even continuing to work remotely, will negatively affect these factors. Additionally, employees are afraid that returning to the office will increase their chances of getting sick, whereas remote work will reduce collaboration between coworkers.

Challenges of Remote Work

Some companies are hesitant to embrace remote work mainly due to the perceived challenge of managing remote workers. Other challenges that companies face during remote work are:

Management

The main challenge with remote work is managing projects since it can be tough to keep track of everyone when the team is not in a central location. However, managers must ensure deadlines are still being met, and goals are still being hit, even though it may be harder to communicate without everyone being in the same place. 

Personal activities can also become more complicated to coordinate since you can't just pop into someone's office to ask them about their plans for the day. For complex projects and large teams, this can pose a big problem. Therefore, for some projects, a hybrid work culture is preferred.

Reduced productivity

If remote workers want to set large goals, they must ensure that all small tasks are completed on-time. However, keeping track of the progress of many remote workers can be challenging.

Lack of trust

‍Building trust between remote teams when employees never physically see what their coworkers are doing is a significant challenge. The lack of transparency prevents employees from collaborating effectively.

Lack of motivation

Remote workers struggle to stay motivated since they feel lonely. Thus, it leads to a lack of focus.

Is the Hybrid Model the Future of Work?

Hybrid work has been promoted everywhere as the new normal. According to a 2020 survey by FlexJobs, most workers anticipate their employers will continue to provide flexible work arrangements after the pandemic. This has prompted many businesses to test different hybrid work models to find the one that works best for their particular businesses.

Hybrid work has many benefits, such as increased productivity and creativity, better work-life balance, and reduced stress levels. However, finding the right model for the business is important, as not all companies are the same.

When a company considers implementing a hybrid work model, it's essential to consider all the factors involved, such as the business goals, company culture, and the needs of your employees. It must also consider the potential drawbacks of hybrid work arrangements before jumping on board with this new way of working. 


The CEO of Airbnb, Brian Chesky, believes that hybrid work schedules will prevail and ideal work schedule will be no more than two days of office a week.

CEO of Morgan Stanley, James Gorman, says that working from the office is crucial for the company's culture and people's careers. He asks his employees to attend the office 3-4 days a week.

Despite the challenges of remote work, it is possible to successfully implement hybrid and remote working practices. With more people preferring to work remotely, more opportunities exist.

According to a survey, more than half of the respondents were more productive from home, and 55% also reported working longer hours.

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Remote work productivity during Covid-19| Source

Remote work comes with specific challenges. However, they can be eliminated or minimized in the following ways:

Tips for Efficient Remote Working

Create a routine

Remote work could lead to blurring the lines between personal and professional space. This could lead to a lack of routine for work. If someone wants to be a successful remote worker, they should create a consistent routine and an environment that simulates an office space. This would help them stay focused and be more productive.

Creating a perfect work environment

When working from home, create an environment that is both creative and productive. This will help promote a healthy work-life balance and motivate employees to get work done. Companies can suggest ways to create an ideal workplace. They should also plan and have the right tools and technologies to help employees do their job well. For example, many remote workers use noise-canceling headphones to prevent disturbance during meetings due to background noise, and an adjustable desk to enable them to work without health issues.

Achieve the flow state of work

‍ Flow can be defined as a state of mind where an individual completely engages in work. Working in a flow condition develops focus, happiness in work, and creativity. It also reduces stress. Achieving the flow condition of work is not easy. However, the following steps may help: 

  • Companies must assign people the projects they are passionate about.
  • Enable employees to work during their peak energy hours.
  • Avoid assigning low-level unproductive tasks to employees.
  • Assist employees in removing distractions and being more productive.

Promote proper team meetings

Companies must encourage employees to attend video meetings with the entire team at regular intervals. This will create an environment rich with collaboration and opportunities for productivity and enhance trust levels between team members. People feel more connected when they see each other face-to-face, and team bonding grows. Remote workers can also give excellent suggestions and ideas to help develop the organization.

4 Steps to Implement Effective Hybrid Working

Crucial elements to consider when implementing a hybrid working model:

Make explicit policies and procedures

Create policies and procedures that allow the employees to shift to hybrid working effortlessly. This might require starting from scratch or revising an existing flexible working strategy.

Evaluate the legal considerations of switching to hybrid working

‍The transition to this style will result in a formal change in the company's employment terms and conditions. To accommodate this, new employment contracts should include the contractual location, with individuals who work from home using their home address as their workplace address.

Make communication between the employees simpler and easier

‍How leaders communicate inside the company and across teams will significantly impact the effective deployment of a hybrid working style. Companies may also use workplace instant messaging systems like Slack, Microsoft Teams Chat, or Google Chat to promote collaboration.

Incorporate training and development into your hybrid work approach

Hybrid working will place new expectations on the workforce and new issues they are unlikely to have experienced previously. One area to focus on is the development of skills to enable successful communication, performance management, and team building. LinkedIn Learning is one of the many valuable tools leaders can utilize to upskill their workers. As more and more businesses move towards hybrid work models, employees must be equipped with the skills necessary to succeed in this environment. 

Conclusion

Many firms are looking into a hybrid virtual model that would blend remote work with time in the office as they prepare for the post-pandemic future. The decision to do this follows the significant productivity gains seen throughout the epidemic. This model would give employees more flexibility and allow them to take care of things outside of work if need be while still getting the chance to interact with their colleagues regularly. What's more, it would also cut down on commuting costs and time spent in traffic.

Pandemic-style productivity improvements can be highly sustainable in the future if leaders address the causes of employee concerns. Companies can do this by adopting and implementing various strategies for successful remote work.

Cogent Infotech helps tech companies navigate new ways of work by providing several managed services for their workforce. For more information, check out the Cogent website.

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