- More than half (53%) of knowledge workers in a recent survey said they lacked a dedicated desk, personal computer, laptop or reliable internet connection in the shift to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey results, released April 29 by work management software firm Asana, included feedback from 5,140 full-time employees working from home in Australia, Germany, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S.
- Respondents said they've adjusted their schedules, too; nearly 60% are working different hours than they did before moving remote, and 53% said they are taking more breaks through the day. Thirty-two percent said they're starting their workdays earlier, while 28% are working later into the evening.
- Among U.S. respondents, nearly 80% said their manager has been more supportive in managing and communicating work goals since moving to remote work — the highest percentage of any country surveyed, Asana said.
Remote work may be a new normal for many U.S. workers, but each person has experienced the pandemic's disruption differently.
For example, research in early April from the Brookings Institution showed that higher-income workers "are much more likely" than lower-income workers to work from home during the pandemic. Additionally, Brookings researchers said that while about half of employed U.S. adults are working from home, recent estimates showed only a third of jobs could be done entirely at home.
Broadband internet access is an important background to this conversation, as the Asana study showed. Pew Research Center estimates indicate that some three-quarters of American adults have access to broadband internet service at home, but that racial minorities, older adults, rural residents and those with lower levels of education and income are less likely to have such access.
Employees, too, are balancing work with caring for relatives and others at home. Legislation at the state, local and federal levels granted employees varying degrees of access to paid leave and some companies, recognizing the hurdles posed by school closures, have offered policies that build even further on that legislation.
Employers themselves are struggling with these disparities. More than one-third of U.S. employers in a April survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) said they were having challenges managing employees who are unable to telework and shifting communications to meet their workforce's needs. In all, more than seven in 10 employers surveyed by SHRM said they were struggling to adapt to remote work.
Managers play an important role in the success of the shift to remote work, sources previously told HR Dive, but their job is hardly easy for teams used to in-person meetings in a typical office environment. HR can train managers on techniques to improve video conferencing and encourage them to institute rules for remote meetings. Managers also may need to emphasize empathetic communication with direct reports, including opting for phone or video conversations over email when appropriate.
More than one-third of workers in a recent Citrix and OnePoll survey said they expect their organizations will be more relaxed about remote work after the pandemic, meaning employers can expect remote work and flexibility to be key policy discussions during reopenings.