A new study on productivity and employee well-being in a remote-first workplace find inadequate tools, lack of consensus on digital etiquette and guidance as major challenges in this type of working environment.

The international study conducted by digital transformation leaders, Adaptavist, surveyed over 2800 workers from a mix of office-based industry sector and departments across the USA, UK, Canada and Australia.

The findings drove attention to the threats to long-term productivity and overall employee well-being posed by improvised solutions during the transition to remote work.

Of the people surveyed, 82 percent reported they are equally if not more productive working from home. Communications across the company have also improved during the pandemic. However, the lack of a shared understanding of which tool to use to communicate and ‘always available’ feeling of working from home adds to stress and motivational challenges for employees.

The findings reveal considerable benefits of 100 percent remote working approach and some of these include:

  • More flexibility in how employees work, ranked as the top benefit
  • 52 percent said that communication across the company had improved
  • 48 percent agreed that collaboration had been enhanced
  • 46 percent agreed that meeting effectiveness had improved

Simon Haighton-Williams, CEO of Adaptavist explains: “In many organisations their culture and tool use meant that those who were not in the same physical location as the people they were working with, were less able to fully input and collaborate. There was an imbalance, or divide in the way they communicated. The ‘accidental’ benefit of everyone being remote is that communication, collaboration and decision making can be the same experience for everyone. This effect is something organisations should cherish and preserve if, and when, they return to the office.”

The major downside of 100 percent remote working is ‘always on’ nature of digital communication (reported by 42 percent) and the absence of boundaries between work and personal lives. Twenty-one percent of surveyed cited this as the most significant negative impact on motivation.

Other downsides include the ‘number of channels employees have to check’ (reported by 31 percent) and domestic affairs distractions (reported by 20 percent). There has been a significant increase in the use of the same platforms for work and personal communications, as one in three workers is now using WhatsApp for work.

Inefficient use of digital channels has contributed to a loss of half of work day per employee each week. Technical issues, managing workloads and keeping teams motivated are in the top greatest challenges in running remote teams.

The study also found that less than half of workers had been given any training to ensure they are using these channels efficiently.

“High performing teams embody mastery, autonomy and purpose, so it’s natural that people adopt the tools that have proven to work well in their personal lives when faced with new challenges in their professional lives. However, organising the chaos and confusion between these channels is key to maximising the benefits they bring,” adds Simon Haighton-Williams, CEO of Adaptavist.

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