BALTIMORE — Employers need not be worried about the pandemic quashing workers’ productivity; more than half of workers report that their productivity has increased since they started working from home, while less than 10% report decreased productivity, according to a survey conducted by Baltimore-based SHIFT Consulting.
From April to July, more than 5,000 employees from across 22 companies took the Remote Work Survey, in an effort to help their companies understand workers’ feelings about the benefits and drawbacks of working from home.
The survey was designed as a free tool that employers can use to assess their employees’ feelings about remote work. Since July, an additional 15 companies have used the survey, but those results were not included in the results SHIFT released.
Joe Mechlinski, CEO of SHIFT, has always advocated for flexibility, humanity and communication to be more prominent parts of the workplace. That’s why, as he witnessed companies upended by the pandemic and economic recession, he wanted to create a strategy for companies to field employee feedback about everything from their confidence in the health of their organization to their mental wellbeing while working from home.
“Why not use (the pandemic) as an opportunity to source the answers of what’s next from your team?” Mechlinski said. “It doesn’t make everything they say ‘right’ … but it certainly provides a new container for conversation that did not exist pre-COVID.”
Many workers responded that their organizations have done an effective job of moving to online work, with 64.4% of respondents saying that their company was sufficiently prepared to make that pivot. 43% said their certainty in their company’s health had in fact increased since the start of the pandemic, with the majority of those respondents expressing satisfaction in their organization’s communication, support and leadership.
But the survey also exposed some of the challenges of working from home.
While more respondents indicated an increase or lack of change in their wellness and self-confidence, 25.5% stated that their wellness had decreased since working from home, and 21% stated that their self-confidence had decreased.
Workers also report feeling disconnected from their teams; nearly half of respondents say they feel less connected to their colleagues than they did when they worked in the office, with that number rocketing up to 80% for those employees who had been working at their company for fewer than three years — though most feel that they are as connected with their manager as they had been before COVID-19.
Additionally, the study notes that the increased productivity reported by 54.8% of employees may not continue. Workers who reported an increase in productivity attribute this shift to improved work/life balance, the lack of a commute and increased flexibility, but the report predicts that “challenges in home environments and management fatigue” may contribute to a decline in productivity.