Is remote work the new normal?

As COVID-19 continues to spread, remote work is no longer an experiment, but a requirement in many nations. While it represents a huge change, the results of a research conducted by OnePoll and Citrix, reveal that a majority of employees around the world are adapting to working from home and believe it will become the new normal for the way work gets done.

remote work

“Remote work is not business as usual. It represents a totally new way of thinking and operating and can be a difficult adjustment for employees and employers to make,” says Donna Kimmel, Chief People Officer, Citrix.

“But business must go on, even in times of crisis. And as the research makes clear, companies that give their people the right tools can help them make the transition, empower them to be and perform at their best, and emerge stronger when conditions improve.”

Remote work: A new normal

As Kimmel notes, remote work is a completely new concept for most employees. Less than half of more than 10,000 workers polled in six countries indicated that they worked from home at least one day per week prior to the coronavirus outbreak:

  • 33 percent (United States)
  • 26 percent (France)
  • 34.4 percent (Australia)
  • 42.6 percent (Germany)
  • 22.1 percent (Italy)
  • 45 percent (United Kingdom)

Changing with the times

And they admit working remote has been an adjustment. Among the top challenges cited by respondents in all countries:

  • Isolation from colleagues
  • Lack of face-to-face interactions
  • Difficulty separating work and personal lives

Staying productive

There are plenty of productivity issues that get in the way in the office. Yet the majority of employees believe that empowered with the right tools, they can stay engaged and be as or more productive working from home as they are in the office. Of those polled who said they work the same or more hours:

  • 77 percent (US)
  • 60.9 percent (France)
  • 80.8 percent (Australia)
  • 76.2 percent (Germany)
  • 70.80 percent (Italy)
  • 68.2 percent (UK)

More than half in all countries said their productivity levels are the same or higher:

  • 69 percent (US)
  • 62.9 percent (France)
  • 69.6 percent (Australia)
  • 74.20 percent (Germany)
  • 78.9 percent (Italy)
  • 62.70 percent (UK)

What are the right tools?

“You can have the best technology in the world. But if you don’t provide employees with resources to help them make the adjustment, they won’t use it and continue to engage and be productive,” Kimmel says.

“And this includes things like sharing tips on setting up a home office and providing flexible schedules to accommodate family responsibilities. Leveraging video conferencing and chat apps to drive richer communications.

“Hosting virtual office hours where employees can drop in on their managers like they would if they were in a physical location to ask questions or just vent.”

The research supports this notion, as employees polled called out the importance of the following as they adapt to the new model:

  • Dedicated physical workspaces
  • Single-Sign-On digital workspace where they can easily access all of the systems and applications they need to do their jobs
  • Opportunities to connect and collaborate with colleagues in more personal ways such as virtual meetings and video chats
  • More regular guidance/feedback from managers

Preparing for the future

The coronavirus pandemic has, in essence, created a forced experiment. Organizations that may have been reticent to consider remote work have come face-to-face with a situation that now requires it.

And while perhaps not their choice, the vast majority of respondents to the research believe it is the future of work. When asked if they believe working from home will be more common after the crisis, roughly two thirds of employees polled in all countries responded affirmatively.

“The world has definitely changed. And remote work may in fact be the new normal,” Kimmel says. “Companies that embrace the change and build a culture around it in which their employees are empowered with the tools, confidence and trust they need to adapt can weather these tough times and position themselves to thrive when better days return.”

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