New Report: Americans Don't Want To Return To Office, Women Prefer WFH & Rise of Intentional Teams
If anything has dramatically changed during this pandemic, it’s the way we work. This sudden shift to remote work has affected thousands of workers across the globe.
This ‘next normal’ is slowly creeping up, and organizations have a very low visibility on what that may look like in the coming months, even years. New trends are emerging, new behaviours are being monitored across teams, and managers are navigating these challenging times with even more creativity and insights than ever before.
To further examine this shift, Atlassian collaborated with Paper Giant on a global research that looks at how a distributed workforce impacts the day-to-day of an employee, how managers can respond to emerging needs and trends, and what tools can be made available for remote workers going forward. This research was conducted with knowledge workers in Australia, USA, Japan, Germany and France.
“The research work has culminated in the creation of clear insights and practical frameworks that will help us better support as we continue to move through these challenging times and evolve our way of working both as individuals and teams,” says Leisa Reichelt, Head of Research and Insights at Atlassian.
We studied the 212-page report and are very excited to share a super summarised report of the most interesting insights for managers and teams. Let’s dive straight in!
People are more effective at work
As there are less interruptions by ad hoc requests, advice or invitations to socialise, employees and managers shared how this had led to an ‘intensification’ of the working day, where large portions of time were dedicated to focus work.
53% believe it has been easy or very easy for them to be effective while working remotely.
Visibility Is a Big Concern
Employees and managers are feeling more effective in their remote workspace, but they are also getting anxious about not ‘being seen’ by managers.
Many participants in this study reported feeling more productive while working from home, enjoying the fewer distractions, but they were also concerned about their job security and recognition from managers and other executives. Employees feel they’ll have fewer opportunities for career progression if they continue to work from home.
“I love the fact I’m really productive, but I’m afraid I’ll lose credibility and become disposable,” said one participant. “I feel kind of out-of-sight, out-of-mind. It’s easier to lose sight of the value I would bring [in higher-level roles].”
In any remote work scenario, it takes time to get over the need for validation you get from being in the office; the smiles from colleagues, the “nice job” comments at the end of presentations, the high-fives from bosses.
43% of people had become more concerned about their job security
33% participants feel they spend more of their working time reporting to clients and managers, in an attempt to make their work more visible
Closer to teams, but more distant from organization
Now more than ever it’s important for people to make efforts to connect with their remote colleagues. But unfortunately, the report found that many employees are finding less opportunities to socialize. While some organizations are attempting to promote cross-team connections, virtual happy hours, but their efforts have been average. Employees even suggested that the “lifted and shifted rituals” that was once hosted in an office, like after-work drinks or team-building exercise, just don’t have the same impact and effect when done virtually.
"We used to do morning teas, work drinks, and coffee. You see everyone every day, even in small moments. I do miss it.”
However, the positive twist is that teams are feeling closer than ever, as per this report. Many participants reported a strong sense of cohesion and connection between their teams after the transition to remote work.
31% believe their company would need to provide better opportunities to socialise, and that their organisation were unprepared for remote work
38% believe their teams are getting along better now, than before
The rise of intentional meetings
Not a surprise to anyone, but the time people spend in meetings with others has increased significantly. These frequent meetings were associated with the move to digital, where even short conversations needed to be formalised with a meeting. Some believed that it was challenging to keep these meetings short as they might have been if they had been held in a hallway, or over lunch.
As collaboration becomes more intentional, managers are seeking more purposeful participation from carefully chosen invitees to meetings. This is for a number of reasons -- to avoid ‘meeting fatigue’; and in efforts to remain efficient.
But this new remote meeting trend has worried employees as their inputs could be limited and the quality of the team’s work may be threatened, if there’s limited perspective across the board.
“Communication now is goal-oriented. There is less social chit-chat compared to (before).”
“We learned to trim the invites - just have the people on the call who need to be.”
49% are attending impromptu meetings
WFH is an advantage for women
Women are finding remote work extremely advantageous and liberating, as per the respondents of this report. As the performative tasks of being in an office disappear, women have shown a stronger desire to continue working fully remotely.
While many shared concerns about maintaining visibility in the office, should those in influential positions choose to work from the office, women overall felt more content in a distributed team. Many reflected that preparing and maintaining work identities was exhausting, and meeting set stands of ‘presentability’. Now free from expectations, they feel they will be able to focus on doing their jobs more.
“You feel kind of restrained when you’re in a business office. I can get anxiety going into a meeting with people who, for whatever reason, I might see as above me. These video calls just makes me feel a little more comfortable and open.”
46% of women say their confidence in their ability to achieve has improved since the move to remote work.
39% of women want to work fully remote, even after COVID-19 era is history.
Americans don’t want to return to the office
To add to a better work-life balance, the report asked all US-based employees and managers if they’d like to continue working in a distributed setting, or go back to work?
Only 12% said they would prefer a return to office, meanwhile 67% of Americans are nervous about returning to the office without a vaccine in place.
This new-found flexibility and control over the working day really stood out in the American participants. Survey results show Americans were more likely to appreciate the quality of their life outside of work, since working from home.
“The most important thing I've gained from working from home is time, which equates to a happier personal life.”
53% of people who preferred to work at home would even if they had to cover the added costs themselves.
49% of people wanted to work completely from home, well above the global average of 35%.
74% of Americans now better appreciate the quality of life outside of work.
All image source: Atlassian Report