Does working remotely actually work?

In the blink of an eye, remote work went from an experiment to a requirement. And as the results of a recent survey conducted by OnePoll reveal, work has a completely new look as employees around the world adapt to the realities or working from home.

remote work experiment

Beds have become desks, bathrooms serve as conference rooms, kids and pets crash virtual meetings and cameras thought to be off capture awkward moments and sounds. Yet, workers remain as, if not more, productive and engaged.

The new normal is not normal

Remote work has become the new normal. But for most employees, it is anything but. “It’s interesting, funny and novel to see your co-workers in their pajamas on a video call,” says Donna Kimmel, Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer, Citrix.

“But for remote work to work, employees need to get into a repeatable rhythm so they can be and do their best wherever they happen to be.

Remote work experiment: A new routine

With their daily commutes reduced from hours to minutes, the majority of the 2,000 US workers who participated in the research – comprised of office workers currently working from home due to the Coronavirus outbreak – are adapting their daily routines.

While 24 percent get up at the same time as they did when commuting to an office, the vast majority say they are working around a new clock:

  • 25 percent sleep in a little more
  • 22 percent sleep until the last possible moment they need to be online

They’ve also adjusted their personal routines and spend less time getting ready for work:

  • 34 percent shower every day
  • 26 percent continue to do hair/makeup/other grooming
  • 15 percent shave less

And 25 percent of respondents say they can focus and get work done more quickly as a result.

Ready or not, here it comes

Few employees were ready for the abrupt remote work experiment that the coronavirus pandemic has forced. And while 82 percent of those who participated in the survey said their companies were “completely” or “fairly ready” and had the technology and infrastructure in place to enable it on short notice, they cited a number of issues that make working from home tough:

  • Strict security protocols and lack of single sign-on, requiring multiple passwords and two-factor authentication to access apps (33 percent)
  • Slow home broadband/Wi-Fi (33 percent)
  • Lack of access to all the apps needed to get work done (23 percent)
  • Slow VPN connection (16 percent)

The home as office

When it comes to remote work, technology is only a piece of the work-from-home puzzle. “In addition to providing a digital workspace that has all of the tools and data a person needs, it’s essential to create a physical one that fits individual work styles,” Kimmel says.

And the data shows employees are getting creative in doing so, as most are sharing space with others who have also been forced to work or learn from home, including:

  • Partners (64 percent)
  • Infants aged two and under (28 percent)
  • Young children aged 3 to 12 (56 percent)
  • Teenagers (13-17) (41 percent)
  • Adult children (18 and over) (22 percent)
  • Parents (23 percent)
  • In-laws (19 percent)
  • Elderly relatives (15 percent)
  • Roommates (15 percent)

In addition, 14 percent of office workers reported temporarily working from their second/vacation home, 13 percent at their parents’ or in laws’ house and five percent are even sheltering in a hotel.

From the boardroom to the bathroom

To accommodate the schedules of their new officemates and minimize distractions, respondents said they have taken calls in unusual places:

  • Their bedroom (33 percent) or their child’s room (25 percent)
  • Bathroom (29 percent)
  • Garage (24 percent)
  • Basement (23 percent)
  • Closet (17 percent)
  • Attic (15 percent)
  • Outside (14 percent)

Herding cats – literally

But this hasn’t prevented interruptions. Of those polled who said their children and pets have made appearances on video calls:

  • Children (24 percent)
  • Pets (13 percent)
  • Both children and pets (29 percent)

Smile, you’re on candid camera

“I love seeing a formerly office-bound executive dive into a call in the kitchen — with shower hair, kids in the background, yet their razor-sharp savvy and perspective intact,” says Meghan M. Biro, Founder of Talent Culture.

“It’s fun to watch people be surprised by their own grit and resourcefulness. It’s also fun to keep it real. It takes some of the edge off our tremendous anxieties right now.”

But it can also lead to some awkward moments. Roughly 44 percent of workers have signed on to video meetings and not realized their cameras were on, only to be caught:

  • Doing chores – cleaning, folding laundry, emptying the dishwasher, etc. (44 percent)
  • In the bathroom (41 percent)
  • Cooking (40 percent)
  • Working out (38 percent)
  • Eating (37 percent)
  • Lying in bed or on the couch (33 percent)

I can hear you…

Many have also experienced embarrassing moments thinking they were on mute when their microphones were actually on and they could be heard:

  • Making awkward noises (41 percent)
  • Talking about someone on the call (37 percent)
  • Talking to someone else in the room with them (28 percent)

Casual everydays

What does working from home look like?

  • 29 percent of those polled wear slippers or no shoes
  • 28 percent get dressed in the same attire they would wear to the office
  • 25 percent wear sweatpants or pajamas
  • 25 percent get half-dressed so they can “look nice on video conferences”
  • 24 percent wear workout clothes

The future of work?

And will it persist once the pandemic subsides?

  • 37 percent of employees surveyed think their organizations will be more relaxed about working from home and 32 percent say they plan to do so more often
  • 33 percent are eager to return to the office
  • 28 percent indicated they will actively look for a new job that allows them to permanently work remote
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Does working remotely actually work?