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Pulse of remote working reveals new digital divide

A new study shows a divide between those who take to remote working and those who don’t

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Business process management platform Pipefy asked 410 American workers a range of questions on their experience of remote working, and came up with surprising findings, which probably reflects the situation in most countries. The following report was written by “Team Pipefy”:

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented two significant situations: the rapid and large-scale transition to remote working and an opportunity to imagine work differently.

Due to the global lockdown and restrictions on movement, employees of large and small organizations are now operating remotely. It looks like the work-from-home model may be here to stay for a significant section of the workforce.

With an eye on the future, we conducted a survey — Pulse of Remote Work: Before & After COVID-19 — among 410 respondents, all mid- and senior-level professionals working in mid- to large corporations across America. 

Of our respondents, 66 percent of workers were working remotely for the first time, that is, after the recent lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Whereas 14 percent were part-time remote workers before the lockdown and only 20 percent were full-time remote workers even before the lockdown.

We use the data from this diverse demographic to identify the problems new remote workers face in settling into this “new normal” in comparison to seasoned remote workers. We get inside the mindsets of employees making this shift to understand how people feel about working remotely, what works and what needs to change.

Our survey findings depart from the rosy picture painted by Buffer’s 2020 State of Remote Work Report. Their survey covered remote workers which did not include the population that was working in traditional offices prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and have only now transitioned into remote work. The concerns faced by these new remote workers have now been addressed in our survey.

Key Takeaways

There’s a significant gap between seasoned remote workers and new remote workers today. It appears that new remote workers may have a few things to learn from full-time seasoned remote workers. 

Below are some of the findings from the survey that instantly stood out to us.

The first thing that drew our attention was that 41 percent of new remote workers would like to go back to working from the office after the lockdown. Whereas, only 20 percent of the new remote workers would like to work remotely full-time.

Remote Work Survey 2020: Before & After COVID-19 - Workers who wish to continue with remote work after coronavirus pandemic

So, we dug deeper to find out more about this segment of new remote workers. In doing so, we found out that only a minority of this population (15 percent) are satisfied with their work-life balance, whereas, almost 50 percent of full-time remote workers are satisfied with their work-life balance.

Remote Work Survey 2020: Before & After COVID-19 - New & Seasoned remote workers who are satisfied with work-life balance

A look at the biggest challenges faced by new remote workers instantly showed that this new segment struggles with distractions. Over 60 percent of respondents claim distractions to be the biggest challenge. Maintaining a work-life balance comes in a distant second.

Remote Work Survey 2020: Before & After COVID-19 - Biggest challenges remote workers face while working from home

We also wanted to understand their satisfaction levels across other areas. So we asked them what they were most satisfied and dissatisfied about. It is interesting to note that they were most satisfied with family time, flexibility, and work hours, while they were most dissatisfied with their mental health and work-life balance.

Remote Work Survey 2020: Before & After COVID-19 - What remote workers are most satisfied with
Remote Work Survey 2020: Before & After COVID-19 - What remote workers are most dissatisfied with

A quick look at the following 2 charts should highlight the marked difference between new remote workers and seasoned remote workers. See

Only 15 percent of new remote workers feel a greater sense of well being working from home. In contrast, seasoned remote workers seem to have cracked the well-being from home code. A significant number (57 percent) of them reported a greater sense of well being while working from home. 

Remote Work Survey 2020: Before & After COVID-19 - Remote workers who feel a sense of mental wellbeing
Remote Work Survey 2020: Before & After COVID-19 - Remote workers who are frustrated and burning out

The only crucial question that remains is whether mental stress comes from enforced isolation due to the lockdown or if remote working itself is the problem. Further survey questions help us to understand this.

Read more on the next page for more findings from the report.

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