We’ve been studying the impact of Remote Work from the crisis and the well is deepening. Not only are companies getting comfortable with the practice, but a whole new set of issues has emerged.
Let me give you a peek (this is data from our www.covidhrpulse.com, our bi-weekly study of HR professionals’ response to COVID19).
- Productivity and work-life balance are now the #1 issues on employees’ minds. In early April we surveyed HR professionals and found that “job security” was the #1. Now it’s “technology and tools for remote work.” Roughly 50% of companies cite this as their #1 topic to address. Right behind this is the issue of “who’s paying for this.” 28% of employees want more subsidies for tools and wifi.
- In our Remote Work Bootcamp, more than 1,000 HR professionals told us that remote work is more productive and useful than they expected. While almost all HR leaders admit that office-based collaboration is still very important, there is near-unanimous agreement that working at home is positive.
- People want more help with productivity and engagement. 25% of HR professionals told us their people want better emotional support, clarity from their leaders, and tips to make work at home easier. A recent study by MetLife found that the #1 wellbeing issue today is “I am tired.” This is caused by the cognitive overload of working at home: poor work location, children and pets, and a myriad of distractions.
- Emotional and social support is in great demand. Nearly a third of companies told us this is their #1 need, and this means more checking in with people, virtual social activities, mental wellbeing, and more fun. I wrote last weekend about the “puppy effect” – this is clearly coming through in all the data we analyze.
- Everyone wants frequent two-way communication. Almost every company I talk with is now having daily all-hands calls, emails from the CEO, and other open forms of communication. 45% of people cited this as a top requirement and they want high-quality information (safety, work practices, new pay policies), clear guidance on “back to work” policies, and they want to give input.
- Employee experience surveys are getting old already, so people want open conversations with their managers. As Medallia put it to me this week (a leader in EX solutions), we need “signals not surveys.” Surveys are just not specific enough for people to express their particular needs – so companies are being asked to open the aperture and let employees just talk, share a video, post a picture, or type.
- Employees are craving for help with work-life balance and physical wellbeing. 32% of employees cite these issues and this includes highly flexible meetings, letting people have time to take care of their kids, and online exercise, yoga, and other forms of fitness programs.
- There is massive need for patience as people have children and distractions at home. The #1 most voted “recommendation” is to “maintain patience as employees try to balance remote work, young kids at home, and the challenges of homeschooling all rolled into one.”
- We have seen explosive demand for online learning. Companies tell me their learning catalog is “flying off the shelf” and the demand for video-based learning on work practices, personal fitness and leadership, and all sorts of information about the virus and safety is huge.
As we write about in our Remote Work Playbook (available to Bersin Academy members), this is not a small shift. A recent survey by the Financial Times found that 49% of UK-based companies are planning on reducing lease space.
I actually think the numbers are going to be higher. Almost every CHRO I speak with tells me that 20-30% of their “work at home” staff will probably stay in that configuration, and they see the cost savings of reduced real-estate as a huge benefit.
One of the world’s leading providers of office equipment told me “We just redesigned our offices for the future of work and eliminated cubicles and closed doors, cramming people together. Now it’s time to redo it again, and give people more space and the option to stay at home.” I cannot imagine the panic that must be going through leasing agents right now.
Among all the data we collected this period, we found that the big issues fall out as follows: