A new study by digital transformation leaders, Adaptavist, highlights the threats of stress to long-term productivity and employee well-being posed by improvised solutions during the transition to remote work.
Overall, 82 percent of people report they are equally (47%) if not more productive (35%) working from home, and company-wide communications have improved during the pandemic.
However, the lack of a shared understanding of which tool to use and how to communicate with it, combined with the ‘always on’ nature of working from home, brings added stress and motivational challenges for workers.
The Adaptavist Digital Etiquette Study, which includes survey responses from 2,800 knowledge workers across the UK, USA, Canada and Australia, shows remote working offers major benefits for businesses, but new digital communication and productivity challenges have also emerged.
‘Levelling the playing field between in-office and remote workers’ and ‘working in a more agile fashion with faster decision-making’ were seen as key benefits from the transition. Other notable benefits include learning we can be more flexible in how we work’ ranked as the top benefit.
Simon Haighton-Williams, CEO of Adaptavist explains: “In many organisations surveyed their culture and use of tools 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.”
Haighton-Williams said there was an imbalance, or divide in the way organisations 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 absence of boundaries between our work and personal lives was the highest-ranked threat to motivation for employees, with 21% citing this as having the most significant negative impact on motivation.
The ‘always-on nature’ of digital communications (42%) and the ‘number of channels I have to check’ (31%) were seen as the greatest sources of stress and frustration in work-related communications.
Meanwhile, some 43% had always used the same platforms for work and personal communications, but an additional 31% have started due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The study also revealed the top 5 greatest challenges in running remote teams were: technical issues; managing workloads; tracking what people were working on and the status of work; keeping teams motivated; and knowing how people are feeling.
Even with the availability of new communication tools, the vast majority are still using email (71%) and spreadsheets (62%) to track work.
“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,” says Simon Haighton-Williams.