- U.S. workers who have moved remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic are largely adjusting to their new reality, according to the results of a recent Indeed survey emailed to HR Dive. The company found 78% of respondents said they had adjusted to working from home, while 63% said remote work "was easier than they had anticipated."
- The majority of respondents said they missed socializing in-person with their co-workers, however, and 45% missed in-person meetings. Moreover, despite saving money and having more time to pursue activities such as exercise, spending time with family and sleep, half of respondents said they were "surprised" that they missed commuting.
- Respondents said that employers have taken steps to mitigate the challenges of remote work, with 72% noting their companies have provided solutions to improve collaboration while 58% said companies are implementing solutions to encourage employee socialization.
Despite the survey's findings, past research and input from HR executives shows the movement to remote work has not been a frictionless experience for many workers. From the earliest stages of the pandemic, a lack of access to necessary equipment and reliable internet service affected productivity and morale, while many working parents have struggled with the need to balance child care duties with their work responsibilities. An August survey by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation found that employers cited child care as a key barrier preventing employees from returning to work fully.
At the same time, other research demonstrated that not all aspects of remote work have been necessarily negative. In April, a survey by KPMG found 54% of workers said their productivity improved since moving remote, while 64% said the quality of their work had improved. Months later, a September survey by communication platform Slack showed only 12% of global knowledge workers intended to go back to working exclusively from an office after the pandemic, with more than half noting that their work-life balance improved after making the transition.
HR teams may need to balance the positive and negative aspects of remote work by guiding their organizations to support those struggling to be productive at home — including workers who are taking care of family members and others — executives at The Home Depot and Adventist Health said in a recent webinar.
Managers can also aid their teams by opening up communication channels, setting clear goals and leading by example when it comes to taking time away from work, sources previously told HR Dive. That last point may be especially important for remote teams; Indeed's survey found that 63% of respondents said they were working more due to not taking breaks throughout the day.
Should employers decide to implement a long-term shift in their approach to remote work, they may also need to edit their policy manuals and employee handbooks accordingly. For example, those who previously framed remote work as a privilege may change such language if remote work is to be treated as something mandatory, attorneys previously told HR Dive.