- Posted by Nate Lee
- On April 23, 2020
- 0 Comments
- Business Continuity, Experience & Productivity
Over the past few weeks, almost all businesses have seen their world of work turned upside down. In the blink of an eye, remote work went from being an experiment or an expectation, to an essential requirement.
Wanting to gain more insight into how workers are managing the adjustment to remote working all the time, we carried out a survey with OnePoll and questioned 2,000 office workers in the United States currently working from home due to the COVID-19 outbreak about their impressions of the situation. The good news is that despite some initial hiccups with bedrooms needing to become offices and kids and pets crashing virtual meetings, the majority of workers are demonstrating grit and determination, managing to remain productive and engaged.
Overcoming Tech Challenges
Despite the lack of notice for businesses, 38 percent of workers said that their organization was “completely” set-up for remote working, with the technology and infrastructure already in place. A further 45 percent claim they were “fairly ready”.
However, the reality is that the shift to working from home is not without its tech challenges. Home broadband and Wi-Fi is proving the biggest issue, for a third of survey respondents. This is closely followed by strict security protocols, or the absence of single sign on, for 33 percent. Additionally, the use of multiple conference call services, of two or more, is causing frustration for 62 percent, as are lack of access to apps to get work done (23 percent) and slow VPNs (16 percent).
Finding a New Routine and Rhythm
While our survey found that 24 percent of US workers are getting up at the same time as they did when commuting to an office, a quarter are sleeping in a little more, and 22 percent are hitting the “snooze” button until the last possible moment. Personal morning routines have also changed a bit and just 34 percent claim they are continuing to shower every day, while 26 percent are styling their hair or applying makeup, prior to going online. A quarter admit to wearing sweatpants or pajamas while working, and 24 percent are wearing workout clothes.
While it might be funny and novel to see your co-workers in their pajamas on a video call, for remote work to be truly effective, it’s important to try and get into a repeatable rhythm so that workers can be and do their best wherever they happen to be. A positive finding of the study is that 25 percent of respondents say they can focus and get work done more quickly as a result of their new routine. A further 27 percent are also pleased to be removed from the distraction of office politics and chit chat.
With their new routine and surroundings, workers are also taking slightly longer breaks. Currently, they are allowing themselves an average of 31.18 minutes’ worth of breaks per day, compared to the 27.89 minutes they took in the office. During this time, 46 percent are using their breaks to manage the needs of their family, such as setting up home-schooling projects or entertaining their children.
Blending Work with Your Personal Life
Having the right technology to work remotely is critical, however, creating a physical space to work is equally important. While some may already have a home office set up, many workers will have been unprepared, finding themselves having to share their home environment with a variety of other needs. For example, our survey found that 64 percent are sharing their home space with partners, 56 percent with young children aged three to 12, 28 percent with infants under the age of two, and 41 percent with teenagers. Only 5 percent are on their own.
To accommodate the needs and schedules of their new officemates and to minimize distractions, respondents to the survey admitted to taking work calls in unusual places. A third have taken calls in their bedrooms, 29 percent in the bathroom, and 24 percent in the garage, among other places.
Keeping It Real
Not everyone is familiar with remote working technology or etiquette, which has led to some funny and embarrassing outcomes. The survey found, for example, that 44 percent of workers have signed on to video meetings without realizing that their cameras were on, only to be caught cooking (40 percent), doing household chores (44 percent), working out (38 percent) or in the bathroom (41 percent), among other things. Others have found themselves forgetting to hit the “mute” button and been guilty of talking about someone on the call (37 percent), talking to someone else in the room with them (28 percent) or making “awkward” noises (41 percent).
Additionally, 29 percent of workers say their pet or child has made an unexpected appearance on a work video call.
However, this unprecedented blending of work and personal life is also bringing with it some unwelcome anxieties. Our survey finds that 36 percent of workers have felt overwhelmed as a result of working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A further 30 percent say they have been unable to focus due to the number of people in the house, and 28 percent are feeling lonely.
Exploring the Possibilities of Remote Work
These are challenging times, but to get through it, it’s crucial that organizations and their workers embrace the positives and explore fully what can be achieved through remote work. If we are honest with each other and realistic about what we can achieve in a day around the distractions we face, we can build trust and resilience and strive to remain productive and engaged.
Furthermore, our survey finds that 37 percent of employees think their organizations will be more relaxed about working from home in the future, and 32 percent say they plan to do so more often. Providing the technology is trouble-free, workers and organizations will begin to see the possibilities that remote work can bring.
Working from home, staying productive and empowering employees are top of mind for many right now. Learn more through the Citrix Remote Work series.
Written by Donna Kimmel, Chief People Officer at Citrix