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Survey Results: How COVID-19 Has Changed Employee Attitudes Toward Remote Work

For a large percentage of the Irish population, remote working has become the new normal. Commutes no longer exist and our living rooms have become the office. Just this month, a number of big companies including Twitter, Shopify and in some part Facebook, announced that their employees can now work remotely forever if they please. As a result, the data experts at VROOM Digital conducted a survey asking the question – Is Remote Working Here to Stay?

Topics explored: 

  1. Remote working as an option 
  2. The importance of remote work prior and post COVID 
  3. What workers have enjoyed & missed the most while remote working 
  4. Whether the overall colleague reaction has been positive/negative 
  5. Remote work in the future related to current and future jobs 
  6. Managerial perspectives 

1. Remote Working As An Option 

Prior to COVID-19, 64% of our survey participants did not work remotely in any capacity. 41% of workers did not have remote work offered as an option at all and for 23% it was offered, though they did not avail of it.  20% worked remotely on a part time basis and 16% worked remotely full time. 

During COVID-19 restrictions, a massive 95% of these workers were in a position to work remotely. This change of environment caused a massive number of workers who had never previously considered remote working, to experience it. 

2. The Importance of Remote Work 

As Irish employees roll into their fourth month working from home, VROOM’s remote working survey found that 54% of employees now strongly agree that the option to work from home, either part-time or full-time, has become important to them. Prior to COVID-19, a significantly smaller 34% of people felt this way about remote working. It is clear that worker’s opinions of remote working have changed drastically as a result of the unique circumstances the world has been living in. 

3. What Has Been Enjoyed & Missed The Most

Despite the many difficulties the COVID-19 pandemic has brought, remote employees have embraced the newfound benefits it has offered them, such as flexibility and more time to spend with family. Particularly for parents, remote working provides them with more time to spend with their kids while removing the commute and adding in job flexibility. Our survey found that the most enjoyable aspect of remote working for employees has been the lack of commute everyday, with 69% of employees surveyed enjoying this change. 55% feel as though they now have more time to get things done, 52% have enjoyed saving money on both transport and lunch, 45% people are now enjoying more time with family, 35% enjoy wearing more comfortable clothing and 30% of people are getting more sleep as a result. A number of other benefits mentioned included; Less in-office distractions, more time to exercise and increased flexibility in working hours. 

Our survey concluded that the one thing a huge 70% of employees have been missing since remote working, is their in-office, colleague relationships. This highlights the sheer value of office friendships and day-to-day interaction with other human beings in the working environment. With remote working, comes a wide variety of different home office setups. Some workers live alone, and may have led a quiet life over the past few months. Some others may live in a busy house with kids and crave adult conversation. Regardless of living situations, colleague relationships are what has been missing in a lot of people’s lives. 27% stated they missed the routine working in an office brought and 23% felt they were missing the same motivation and productivity that they had when working in an office environment. Unfortunately for 14% of our surveyed workers, they are struggling with poor, unreliable wifi. Physically, 25% missed office furniture such as office chairs and desks, while 13% have been missing hardware such as monitors and keyboards. A number of other things mentioned included; the lack of a home and work divide, an increased workload, a lack of sufficient training and support, missing meeting friends after work and face-to-face meetings.


4. Colleague Reactions 

In order to get a deeper insight into how employees have found the experience of remote working, we asked our survey participants whether their work colleagues have reacted positively or negatively to the change. A huge 92% of workers are of the opinion that their colleagues have reacted positively to the remote work experience. A smaller 8% have found it to be a negative reaction. Overall, the data shows that workers are embracing remote work and are enjoying the perks it brings.

5. The Future of Remote Work 

Given the recent announcements from Twitter and Facebook regarding permanent remote work policies, we asked how much longer workers predict they will continue to work remotely. A larger than expected 32% predict they will continue to work from home for at least another six months, while 15% expect to be back in the office by the end of the month and 20% predict they will work remotely for at least another year. While there are a number of things workers miss about being in the office, it is clear from the benefits why so many are happy to continue remote working for up to another full year.

We then questioned how often workers would be happy to work remotely in future once COVID-19 has passed. Now that it has been experienced by so many, the desire to continue to do so rose significantly. 31% of people stated they would be happy to work remotely on a full time basis in future. 25% would be happy to do so 3 days a week and 24% would be happy to do so 2 days a week, both with the option to catch up in the office on a part time basis. A smaller 9% of workers would like the option to spend 1 day at home and the other 4 in the office and 4% would not like to remote work at all. 

We then asked our survey participants when seeking a job in the future, would the option to work remotely now be important to them. Given the above data, an unsurprising 83% said that remote working is now important to them when seeking future employment. 17% did not consider it to be an important factor. 

6. Managerial Perspectives 

45% of the people surveyed were either business owners or in a managerial position. To these people, we asked whether they were now more or less likely to offer remote working as a standard business offer to their employees. A huge 82% stated they are now more likely to offer this. 16% are still not committed to remote working being a standard working option and are neither more or less likely, and 2% are now less likely to offer it.

In conclusion, while there are a number of things missing in the remote work space right now, the flexibility and freedom it has provided workers with has made them value it since COVID-19. The future of remote work is here and we predict more and more businesses will be called on to adapt as restrictions are lifted. 

 

245+ participants were surveyed from a wide variety of different professional backgrounds such as Advertising, IT, Marketing, PR, Design, Sales, Consulting, Customer Service, Education, Finance, Admin, Engineering, HR and 10+ more. 

 

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