With companies such as Google announcing their plan to close offices until July 2021 and Twitter extending working from home “forever,” remote work appears to be the “Next Normal” for the foreseeable future.
Wrike wanted to know how workers felt about their organizations’ support to help make remote work productive and sustainable. So, from July 6–20, 2020, we used SurveyMonkey Audience to survey over 1,000 full-time workers employed by organizations that gave their employees the choice to work from home.
Lack of infrastructure and training
The need to keep remote teams connected and productive is more crucial than ever, and the key to success is ensuring everyone has the right resources to collaborate digitally.
Almost half of the respondents still don’t have the infrastructure, data, and platforms to be productive
We asked workers if they have access to all the available infrastructure, hardware, data, and platforms they need — such as broadband internet, monitors, a proper desk setup, and VPN access — in order to be productive while working from home. 44% of the respondents say they either don’t have enough or are completely lacking access to stay productive.
Despite having the right tools, 52% of employees lack the proper training to use work management platforms
Work management tools are much more than a to-do list — they’re for collaboration. Training workers on using work management platforms to their fullest potential can keep employees aligned, improve the quality and consistency of work, and reduce miscommunication while working remotely.
We asked workers whether or not they feel they’re well-trained to use work management platforms to create, manage, and execute work properly. More than half of the respondents believe they haven’t.
Even though many companies have implemented remote work solutions for their employees by now, training and feedback processes to empower these employees still aren’t at the level they should be. Workers have the tools to stay productive, but can’t leverage these systems because companies aren’t properly teaching their employees how to use work management platforms.
Standard processes and expectations
Stagnant tasks, unorganized data, miscommunication, and forgotten requests are the result of failed collaborative processes; clunky processes can be even more of an issue when your team isn’t physically in the office. If organizations don’t standardize processes or set clear expectations, problems will arise.
Only about half of workers know exactly which processes to follow when getting work done
54% of workers are fully aware of the processes they need to follow in order to get their work done. Nearly a third say their companies offer multiple processes and systems but are redundant. And the rest of the respondents report that they were allowed to use whatever platform they found convenient and that their company platforms and processes have no consistency.
Functionality across multiple tools can overlap, and jumping between all of them not only weighs teams down, but often results in more silos, inefficiencies, and poor visibility across teams.
Only 51% of workers understand what’s expected of them as they work remotely
A work from home policy can help explain how employees can thrive remotely, but without a clear set of guidelines, employees can be left in the dark.
Although most companies have been working remotely since the beginning of their state’s stay-at-home order, about 49% of employees still aren’t fully aware of what’s clearly expected of them, such as working hours, availability, productivity, etc. Of this percentage, 11% believe that they’re responsible for their own productivity, while 4% state that there have been no set standards for work availability or productivity at all.
60% of workers aged over 60 believe their workplace has set clear expectations for them, while only 40% of workers between the ages of 18–29 do
Employees over the age of 60 state they’re 20% more aware of the clear expectations of remote work, such as working hours, productivity, and availability, compared to employees between the ages of 18–29.
Since working from home wasn’t as common before the 18–29 age demographic entered the workforce, workers over 60 are more likely to continue upholding workplace standards prior to the “age of remote working.”
Communication is key
Some companies are still struggling with standardizing communication between employees
It can be easy for employees to work only in silos while working remotely, especially if the organization hasn’t established a defined communication channel. Using several different platforms for different teams can lead to the breakdown of remote team communication.
About 60% of organizations have successfully implemented a standard platform, like Wrike or Slack, for all employees. 24% have selected a standardized communication stream, but have yet to officially implement them. However, 16% of organizations have limited to no tools to work from home, with 13% of this number still relying solely on email.
Feedback on processes is sometimes heard, but not always implemented
Feedback processes are essential for ensuring employees are heard and understood, especially during these stressful times when some may feel isolated while working remotely. It’s also critical for trust-building and overall organizational success.
Nearly half of respondents report that their companies offer feedback processes to employees to improve existing processes. However, 27% of workers state that even though their companies capture feedback, they don’t typically act upon it. About 22% of workers state that that feedback is collected on an ad hoc basis, and 5% state that their employers don’t collect feedback at all.
If organizations aren’t improving processes based on feedback, it could be difficult for employees to work from home productively in the long term.
The future of remote work
COVID-19 has had an undeniable impact on the market, and the adjustment period hasn’t come without its fair share of challenges. We asked our respondents to shed light on how transparent their companies have been regarding plans to navigate the pandemic and how employees felt about the overall success of their businesses.
Most employees understand the state of their business during COVID-19
53% of workers report that they’ve been briefed on the current and future state of their business, while 33% have heard the information solely through management. Only 14% have reported a lack of communication on the matter.
For the most part, companies have been transparent in their overall plans to survive the economic toll of COVID-19.
Companies have different standards of measuring success in the remote climate
According to respondents, companies have different standards of measuring success in the remote climate, which impacts not only how employees approach their work, but also how companies guide them through it.
We asked how their companies define success. About 39% say it’s when employees work together, support one another, and facilitate and encourage growth. Around 19% say their company equates success with creating new and unique approaches or products.
On the other end, 20% of workers say that revenue, market leadership, and progress against competitors define the success of their company. Similarly, 22% believe their company bases success on cost effectiveness, efficiency, and improvement.
Organizations have been trying to uphold a good remote work culture
Knowing how to support and motivate employees can boost workplace morale and make it easier for them to face personal or professional challenges. Declining workplace morale during the current pandemic is now a new hurdle for managers.
We asked workers which initiatives for informal communication their companies put in place to support them. 23% state that their companies have focused more on work-related team and company events to support employees. Around 28% say that their HR teams have launched centralized projects and initiatives, but 12% say that while their companies have organized such initiatives, there hasn’t been enough support from all team members to execute them properly.
About 37% say they’ve been voluntarily sharing experiences and best practices with other teams. Generally, employees are willing to participate in more informal company activities and foster a good remote work culture.
Business after the pandemic won’t return to the way it was before, so organizations need to quickly adapt their practices during these times and for the foreseeable future.
Our survey shows that employees still don’t feel fully prepared to work remotely. About half feel that they’re still lacking access to all the right resources and tools they need to be productive, as well as the proper training to use work management software. Expectations around productivity and availability are still unclear, but employees have been mostly briefed on the state of their business amid COVID-19.
Overall, organizations still have a lot of room for improvement to keep employees on the right track towards long-term remote productivity.