Remote workers don’t want to return to the office full-time when normalcy returns, survey finds
98 % of remote workers say that they enjoy working from home, and no remote worker wants to return to the office full-time when the pandemic is over, a new survey by Working Den finds.
The Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the nature of work for people around the world, including a large percentage of the population who was suddenly forced into remote working without much preparation or resources. At Working Den, we sought to understand the effects that these new arrangements had on remote workers, and how employees and companies will move forward after the pandemic.
An extensive survey was carried out in November 2020 to understand remote working habits among freelancers and full-time employees who were pushed to work remotely during the pandemic.
Among those surveyed, 48% have worked from home for less than a year, and 52% have worked from home for longer than one year, including 22% who have worked from home for more than one year.
Although remote working allows people to set up shop almost anywhere in the world, only 38% of respondents said they would like to travel the world while working remotely. The majority of the respondents – 58% of those surveyed – still found that their home was the best working environment. Geographical locations of remote workers span around the world, but one-fifth of the respondents said that they would like to live in the United States while working remotely, followed by expat-friendly and culturally interesting countries like Indonesia (10% ) and Italy (8%).
However, flexibility remains one of the key concerns for remote workers, the majority of whom (62% ) believed that there should not be any laws governing the number of hours that remote workers need to clock in each day. Despite being forced quite suddenly into working from home, the majority of respondents said that they enjoyed their experience. Notably, none of those surveyed said that they would return to the office full-time when the pandemic is over – 60% prefers a healthy mix of office working and remote working, while 40% want to work remotely all of the time. It’s clear that they find remote working more beneficial and flexible than the rigid office environment.
Remote workers are demanded to be online all of the time, so it’s not surprising that they get all of their information and work contacts from popular social networks and websites. Facebook is the most popular social media channel among remote workers (46%), followed by Instagram (26%) and LinkedIn (12%). Interestingly, social media is also the main source of news for 28% of respondents, followed by platforms like Google News (18% ), which features information from the biggest news organisations so they don’t miss any important news of the day.
Although only half of those surveyed were freelancers, websites that connect freelancers with work are still well-known. Upwork is still the most popular, with 82% of respondents saying that they have heard of or used the site. Upwork is followed by Fiverr (76% ), Freelancer (64% ), and People Per Hour (38% ).
Since nearly half of those surveyed have worked from home for less than one year, possibly due to the pandemic, they were not well-equipped to cope with the drastic change in their working environment. More specifically, 72% of remote workers say that they do not have an ergonomic set-up at home, which leads to a wide range of negative consequences on their physical and mental health.
Back pain is the most common (54% ) physical discomfort that people feel while working from home, followed by eye pain (36% ), neck pain (30% ) and shoulder pain (27% ). Thus, more than 80% of respondents say they would consider buying new office furniture in the near future to mitigate some of the physical discomforts.
Mental well-being is also a topic of concern for remote workers, with 32% of respondents saying that they usually feel nervous or anxious, 26% reported feeling burnout, and 16% said they were depressed. The lack of social interactions with others can be a contributing factor.
More than 30% of people surveyed that working from home is difficult without human interactions, while 16% said that they were more worried about work-life balance due to the lack of boundaries between “work” and “home”. More than half of respondents said that they have a pet or would consider getting a pet to avoid feeling lonely while working from home. Despite popular beliefs that the home environment is distracting, only 8% of respondents said that they had difficulties focusing on work while working from home.
Working from home habits
The survey found that health and well-being was one of the key concerns for remote workers, so the majority of those surveyed practice healthy habits to balance out their working from home routines. Specifically, 85% of remote workers say that they do some form of physical exercises, including daily walks, home workouts, or exercising at a gym. 92% of remote workers also make lunch at home, 84% snack during the day, and 60% of those surveyed also take vitamins on a daily basis.
More than three-quarters of the survey’s respondents said that they have had no training at all on how to work from home, but they would be willing to pay for tools that improve the quality of their remote working experiences. The survey highlights the need for companies and organisations to provide better resources to support remote workers in managing their physical and mental health, which will boost productivity in the long run.
Working Den is a set of free tools that help improve the lives of those working from home, including productivity tips, home workout videos, and depression and burnout management resources.