Future Of Work: Key Findings From The State Of Remote Work Report

According to the State of Remote Work (2020) report, remote work is here to stay.
  • According to the State of Remote Work (2020) report, remote work is here to stay — but unfortunately for some people, that means working from a closet.
  • Despite some uncomfortable working conditions, half of survey respondents said they would not return to a job that did not allow them the option to work remote.
  • Zoom fatigue is real, with 70% of workers saying they would want one day per week with no video meetings at all.

The first line of the recently released State of Remote Work report states, “2020 is the year the world went remote.” 

For many US workers, that has meant adapting to working from home, whether in a home office, or, in the case of 15% of survey respondents, a closet. Despite challenges like working in a closet, balancing home life, learning new technologies, and maintaining productivity in this new environment, the majority of respondents will be happier if they still have the option to work from home after COVID-19.

The 4th annual report is the result of data collected by OWL Labs, a collaborative technology company, conducted this year in partnership with Global Workspace Analytics, a leading remote analytics firm. The data was collected during June and July of 2020 from 2,025 full time workers at companies with ten or more employees and a range of ages from 21 to 65.

The report provides an overview of how employees are feeling about the future of remote work across the US as well as their workplace expectations as a result of working from home during COVID. It also details key guidance for employers in order to recruit and retain top talent. 

Here are four of the report’s key findings: 

1. Remote Work is the New Norm. 

For employees, the ability to work from home has become key to job satisfaction and happiness. Half of survey respondents said they would not return to a job that did not allow them the option to work remote. A pay raise would be expected for 44% of workers if they had to return to an office full time.

2. Workplace communication has been reinvented. 

Long held beliefs that productivity can only be ensured through in person work are disappearing. With the right tools, people can be productive from anywhere. However, employees are looking for more structure from employers as they face the struggle to balance work life and home life. 

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One way to do this is to institute core blocks of time to be available to work colleagues, with the remainder of the day left flexible for independent work and to address things like family needs.

Also, meeting free days are a must, with 80% of workers preferring one day per week completely free of any scheduled meetings and 70% of workers wanting one day per week with no video meetings. 

3. Remote work means a new era of professionalism.

According to respondents, remote work has broken down “closed door” barriers across company organizations, improving trust between managers and employees. “Remote work gives people the autonomy they want from their role, knowing their manager trusts that they can be productive at their own pace and on their own schedule,” the author’s conclude. 

Still, managers have concerns about successfully supporting their newly remote or hybrid teams. Specifically, the report highlights concerns around missing out on opportunities to support professional development, employee engagement, distractions when WFH, as well as supporting team cohesiveness and engagement with coworkers.

4. Workers are relocating due to COVID, especially to Suburbia. 

According to the report, early data from June and July 2020 showed that 1 in 5 Americans relocated due to COVID. Additionally, workers have taken the opportunity to work from home as a way to ditch their long commutes, now saving an average of 40 minutes per day.

For employers, the recommendation is to make sure that compensation packages factor in home office setup expenses if not hosting employees in a physical headquarters. 

The report closes out by highlighting that this year’s remote work trend, accelerated out of necessity, has given rise to a “Work From Anywhere” movement.

Remote workers have different needs and expectations that employers need to embrace. The authors make this point strongly saying, “Leaders, take note. Requiring all employees to be in an office or onsite is now a policy of the past.”

Whether employers or employees are ready or not, remote work is here to stay.

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