We tasted the bitters and the sweets from remote work over the past year. The discussions over the future of work are trending topics at both dinner and board tables. Some employees dream of going back fully to the office, while others wish to stay remote and work from anywhere. In turn, managers need to understand the needs of their employees and make decisions on how to handle facilities and (remote) work policies. The overall conclusions are clear, most employees like remote work but they miss the informal coffee moments with colleagues at the water cooler, while collaboration through the webcam misses something essential in human contact.
What the numbers tell
Most employees desire to work a few days at the office and a few days remotely (source). Brian Kropp, chief of research in the Gartner HR practice predicted that as many as four in 10 employees will work remotely at some point every week, post COVID-19 (source). But another survey showed higher numbers, stating that 81% of UK employees didn’t want to come back to the office for a 5-day workweek. In the US, 48% of workers would like a mix of working from home and coming into the office, with 41% saying they’d be willing to trade a higher salary for the ability to work remotely part of the time (source). Moreover, a trending Linkedin poll across 43 thousand Linkedin members showed that 36% of the responders would like to continue to work remotely full-time, and 32% preferred to work 3 or more days remotely.
Although a small fraction of the organizations (plan to) work without an office, also known as Working from anywhere (like Github), this is not feasible nor desirable for many organisations. Some processes are more efficient with physical interaction, and some employees work with physical systems they can’t take home. Furthermore, the loss of company culture is a threat with full remote work. The onboarding of new employees is difficult, employees lose their connection with their company, and factors from private life are sometimes interfering with the company engagement of employees while working remotely. For example, breaks in the office usually involved chatting with colleagues, now everyone can’t wait to stretch their legs and get away from their computer, leaving their colleagues on mute.