Telework has arrived. Will it stay?

The coronavirus crisis has made it necessary to promote teleworking, however, this way of working was already growing. More and more companies are sending their employees to work from home (either totally or partially) to avoid contagion during the working day. Offices are increasingly empty, and homes are becoming more crowded. The question is: has teleworking come to stay, or is it just a temporary change?  

The answer to this question is found in the Founders Forum July survey of 330 “teleworkers” (124 CEOs and 206 employees), of whom 94% worked in an office or coworking space before the pandemic. Surprisingly, 93% of respondents said they could do most of their work remotely, while 69% said they could do all of their work remotely. Only one in 310 respondents felt the need to do all the work in the office.  

A blended model 

While most of the respondents felt that they could perform their tasks from home, this does NOT mean that they would not rather go back to the office. Two out of three respondents would prefer to return to the office before the end of the year, however, 95% would prefer to do so in a hybrid face-to-face and telematic regime. While one half would prefer to work most days from home (12,6% the five days), the other half would prefer to spend most days in the office. The most voted option, with three out of ten respondents, was to work two days from home.  

The paradox of teleworking 

Two of the most relevant aspects when making these decisions are the working hours involved in each mode and the productivity during these hours. It is paradoxical that, while most respondents felt they were more productive working from home, they also felt they had to work more hours. How could it be that their work took them longer to be more productive?   

One of the main reasons is the lack of a boundary between working time and rest time. When the worker is in the office, they know that their workday is over once they leave the office. However, with teleworking there is no physical boundary between work and rest, as the home becomes the office itself.   

Lights and shadows 

This lack of differentiation between work and leisure is, according to respondents, the second worst consequence of working from home. However, the vast majority (63%) think that the main disadvantage is the lack of spontaneity in the connection with the rest of the team. What the employees did not miss was the time lost when travelling to the workplace. These trips (round trip) represent more than one hour of “extra working day” for 47% of respondents.  

For survey participants, the main advantage of teleworking is the flexibility and family time it provides. However, more than half said they miss social interactions and face-to-face collaboration with their colleagues. Thus, it can be said that the pandemic has clearly increased family interactions to the detriment of work relationships.  

Lights and shadows. This could define the perception that workers have of teleworking. Most are betting on a hybrid model for the future that allows them to combine the flexibility of working from home with the possibility of having greater interaction with their colleagues from the office on some days.   

What do CEOs think? 

However, since CEOs will have the last word on teleworking and its future intentions, we are sure that the key is in their opinion. This is where it seems clear that telework is here to stay. 86% of the CEOs surveyed said that they will change their policy after the pandemic. However, only 4% would do so in full.  

Therefore, employees and CEOs agree: telework is here to stay. However, this will not mean the disappearance of offices and coworking spaces. We can expect a hybrid model in which workers spend some days at home and others at the office. In this context, it is of great importance to continue researching in search of tools that facilitate greater interactivity and spontaneity in teleworking.  

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