Economy

What 'Going to Work' Will Mean in the Very Near Future

While employees in designated “essential businesses” like grocery stores, pharmacies and health care facilities were exempted from the stay-at-home edicts related to the COVID-19 pandemic, other “non-essential” businesses were able to keep running by letting employees work from home (WFH).

Guess what? Nearly two-thirds (63%) of U.S. workers who have been working from home offices or kitchen tables want to continue the new regime. Some 20% say they work more hours than they did at the office and more than half (63%) say they are at least as productive at home as they were at the office.

The data was reported earlier this week based on a survey of some 2,000 U.S. workers by Zippia, a career resource website.

Survey respondents were asked to identify what they were more likely to want in a job now than before the pandemic hit. Remote work was the top choice, with 63% of respondents wanting the WFH option. Just over 50% rated a flexible work environment as the second-most popular choice and about 37% wanted paid sick leave and increased paid time off.

While 45% of respondents said they are equally productive working remotely and 18% said they were more productive, the other 37% said they were less productive. In the specific case of the coronavirus outbreak, salary cuts and child care demands played a significant role.

Other productivity killers were too many virtual meetings (suggesting, perhaps, that Zoom and its competitors may need some time to find their proper niche in a WFH lifestyle), technology problems, lack of supplies like computer monitors and phones, and micromanagement.

In a separate survey, Zippia asked people what off-task things they did during virtual meetings? The most common chore was checking emails (55%), with talking/texting on cellphones and multitasking each received attention from 51% of respondents. Nearly half (45%) admitted to snacking and about 9% said they played video games. More than 15% did household chores like loading the dishwasher during virtual meetings.

What annoys 56% of employees most about virtual meetings is that the meeting could easily have been handled by email. Loud background noises were the second-most cited annoyance with about 53%, and late starts and technical difficulties were cited by more than 45% of respondents.

WFH is still a work in progress. The COVID-19 pandemic sped up (some might say, forced) adoption of WFH as a way to keep employees both safe and productive. Some of the changes in peoples’ work lives due to the pandemic are sure to be permanent. It’s too early to tell yet which ones they’ll be.