Are Remote Workers Happier?
2020 saw a massive shift in the way the workforce operates. Industries that previously operated primarily in-person had to get creative; with that came the realization that perhaps they don’t have to be in the office ever again. Employees experienced an unprecedented change in their work culture: “among white-collar workers, the shift is stark: Before Covid just 6 percent worked exclusively from home, which by May 2020 rose to 65 percent.” The move to remote work came with its hiccups as companies familiarized themselves with the process, and the technology caught up to a sudden worldwide demand. Once those things were in place, it started to feel like remote work was here to stay. As offices began to re-open, with employers inviting employees back to work in person, there began to be a reckoning of the actual value of in-person work.
Many employees found that they were able to work more efficiently from home, or had to deal less with office politics that detracted from their productivity. They were able to support a more ideal work/life balance since they spent less time commuting to work.
Perhaps the most compelling reason to continue with a widespread remote work experience (at least, from an employee perspective), and the pushback from employees about returning to the office comes from the simple reason that many employees are much happier with their work from home experience. Let’s explore why.
4 Reasons Remote Workers are Happier
With work performance evaluation no longer dependent on actual hours spent in the office, employees are able to efficiently accomplish their work and then spend their time on family, friends, or hobbies. Remote workers are able to maintain fluidity between priorities of work and home life that was previously unavailable to them. In a study conducted by OwlLabs, they found that “remote work or the ability to work remotely makes employees happier, feel more trusted, better able to achieve work-life balance, and more inclined to take a pay cut to benefit from added flexibility.” They further found that 81% of respondents agreed that working remotely would make them better able to manage work-life conflict, and 83% of survey respondents agreed that the ability to work remotely would make them happier. (OwlLabs, Global Analytics Workplace, Sept. 2019)
Many remote workers noted that working remotely represented a significant and positive change in their sense of inclusion at work. A study by Future Forum noted: “Since May 2021, scores for ‘sense of belonging at work’ have increased 24% for Black respondents and 32% for Hispanic/Latinx respondents. Black workers are now 21% more likely to agree with the statement ‘I am treated fairly at work’ than in May 2021, and that number has increased 13% for Hispanic/Latinx workers.”
Being able to work from home eliminated or minimized many workplace microaggressions and shifted the focus back onto the work, rather than office relationships and water-cooler culture.
It is remarkable that in spite of the upheaval of the last few years, overall employee productivity for remote workers has remained steady, or seen an overall increase in certain industries. Future Forum notes: those with flexible schedules score nearly twice as high on productivity compared with those working 9-to-5 (+13.1 compared with +7.1). Employees are able to accomplish their work without workplace distractions, and employers can easily monitor their output via technology.
- Managing Work-Related Stress and Anxiety
Overall, remote workers found that working from home allowed them to better manage their work-related stress and anxiety. The lack of commute means less time spent on work-related activities, and more time for family, friends, and hobbies. The direct communication practices established for remote workers means fewer misunderstandings and better overall team communication and management. Owl Labs noted: 80% of all survey respondents agreed that the ability to work remotely would make them less stressed.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Organizations are in the midst of a unique opportunity to reimagine their operations. Office-centric businesses will need to keep up with the times and figure out how to incorporate flexible working arrangements into their corporate culture or risk losing their employee base. Keeping the best parts of office culture will go a long way in this new era, along with keeping up to date with the latest data on remote work, and maintaining flexible options for their workforce.
If you want to learn more or need some help with remote work practices to boost your organization’s performance, check out the Zoom meeting training we offer! Our coaching and training can help you create a more connected, high-performing, and engaged team. We can also help magnify the effectiveness of your leaders and managers as they learn how to better engage employees in the office or remotely.