COVID-19 pandemic has imposed a massive experiment in telecommuting to our World.
In the US, half of workers are teleworking, double the figures from 2018.
Today’s teleworkers are full time remote whereas it was occasional in 2018: the vast majority was working 1 day/week from home.
Before COVID, Telecommuting adoption was slow. An inertia caused by the usual human resistance to change, static work cultures and little investment from companies and public sectors in the IT tools and processes required for an efficient telework organization.
The benefits from Telework are clear:
- Work life balance: autonomy gives more control to adapt the work to other spheres of life with more flexible agendas and less time spent in commuting;
- Better environmental footprint: more than 70% of CO2 emissions of knowledge workers come from commuting to the office, clearly outweighing the increased CO2 emitted from Cloud and IT tools.
- Savings for companies & public sector in office space… and coffee..
- Trust boost: when you allow people more discretion and control over their work, you get better performance outcome and productivity.
- Human interaction: Nothing replaces face-to-face contact and most of us miss team meetings or coffee chats. We need to be attentive as these new ways of working unfold and become the new normal. Autonomy + flexibility leads to extra time that can be spent working with greater intensity. Careful of the “ideal worker” syndrome permanently connected and available for work.
- Happy digitalisation: technology is a true enabler to navigate through this difficult period. We are all gaining knowledge adopting digital tools.
On the down side, managing telecommuting staff and keeping them engaged can be more complex, isolation may have negative effects on morale and well-being and the effects on productivity in the long term when scaling to complete organizations are uncertain.
TELEWORK, FROM RARITY TO NECESSITY
30% of workers were allowed to work from home in 2018, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Most people working from home did not have an official work-from-home arrangement but were instead
taking work to their homes in an informal agreement.
Higher earners work from home more
Prevalence of work from home in 2017 by earnings quartile
Professionals who are allowed to telework are usually higher-paid. Half of working Americans in the top 25% of the earnings distribution did paid work from home in 2017, compared to 4% in the bottom quartile.
Telecommuting has skyrocketed since the COVID-19 pandemia started as many professionals across the USA were compelled to stay home.
The following chart shows disparities remain as high-income workers are more likely to be working from home.
Working from Home, by Income
Job applicants place high value on the possibility to work from home.
THE NEED FOR SPEED: MORE BROADBAND
Technological limitations are a barrier to the massification of US telework. While over 70% of Americans have high-speed internet at home, up from 1% in 2000, rural areas have generally been left out of the broadband revolution. One piece of critical infrastructure to is high-speed broadband.
THE NEED FOR TOOLS: MORE INSIGHTS
Given the down side of teleworking, new tools are required by Team Leaders, Managers and Human Resources to gather insights on how their colleagues are living thee work from home experience which has been forced upon them.
How are they reacting emotionally, is their morale down and if so, is the trend alarming? How has this new way of working affected attention in meetings, active participation such as speaking time, how is their productivity…
Are there specific groups of employees who are more affected than others? Are all genders, age and races represented in the work force equally engaged in their new way of teleworking or are there gaps?
As teleworking involves many, sometimes too many, video conferences with colleagues, customers, suppliers, partners, etc. analyzing these videos could potentially unearth insights. What if such data as emotional engagement, attention, and also demographics data such as age, gender, ethnicity, could be tracked in a way which fully respected people’s right to privacy? Without requiring their faces to be stored or sent to any other system?
- “Telecommuting will likely continue long after the pandemic” by Brookings
- Home-based Working post COVID-19 “new normal” by PWC.
- MoodMe Engagement Insights Platform for the “new normal” of Telework & eLearning.
- MoodMe GREG – Gender Race Engagement Gap – in Telework: Measure it to act upon it.