- Workers are "twice as likely" to avoid speaking up with colleagues and managers about concerns than they were when they worked in person, according to the results from a February survey of 1,145 respondents by corporate training company VitalSmarts.
- More than half, 54%, of respondents said they let their concerns go unaddressed "for weeks" in the past year, compared to 22% who said the same was true of their pre-pandemic experiences. Poor performance, behavior concerns, perceived bias and failure to meet deadlines were among the conversation topics respondents said they were "struggling to hold with their manager or colleagues," according to VitalSmarts.
- Unresolved issues led to additional stress for 23% of respondents and to wasted time for 21%, with some reporting their morale and productivity had also taken a hit. "This study confirms distance is destroying dialogue," Emily Gregory, VitalSmarts' researcher and vice president of product development, said in the company's statement.
Employees in the U.S. and globally continue to demonstrate a preference for flexibility in their work arrangements. A March survey conducted by Morning Consult found 68% of U.S. workers preferred a hybrid workplace model post-pandemic, while 87% said they wanted to work from home at least once per week. This also may apply to HR professionals; a 2020 Fishbowl survey found more than half of HR professional respondents said they wanted to work from home permanently.
Yet, even as remote work grew during the pandemic's early stages, reports chronicled the trend's potentially harmful consequences. HR vendor Emtrain's July 2020 report indicated declines in employee sentiment on topics such as harassment prevention and "well-understood norms of behavior" in the workplace. More recently, an October 2020 VitalSmarts study found that employers may fail to recognize the ways in which remote work can impact employees, potentially leading to increased turnover as well as decreased productivity and morale.
That research comes on top of the compliance risks legal sources cite in the conversation about remote work. According to labor and employment attorneys who previously spoke to HR Dive, employers may need to pay attention to issues such as notice-posting requirements, leave laws and expense reimbursements when employing remote workers.
There are also concerns about the potential for misconduct at work. Employers can develop plans to deal with such misconduct that include consistently communicating expectations to employees and managers, promptly investigating allegations and conducting interviews with witnesses — via video conferencing, if possible — just as they might when addressing misconduct in person.