Four months ago, many companies were opposed to the idea of their staff and consultants working from home. There were many perceptions driving the opposition, including 1) loss of productivity, 2) lack of communication and collaboration, 3) information security, 4) infrastructure issues, and 5) lack of “eyes on” staff management. Now, roughly 15 weeks into a total work from home requirement, how do technology staff feel about working from home, what has been gained, what concerns do they have about their work environment, and how has the company and managers handled the communication during COVID-19 overall? Benchmark IT recently asked over 380 area IT professionals to share their views about working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. While some insights were expected, there are a few surprises.

Productivity
When responding to how they feel about working remotely, an overwhelming 84% report being “happy” or “very happy.” Given the current environment, this is a staggeringly high number. A majority of respondents reported that their productivity has actually increased. Sixty-eight percent say a “high” or “very high level” of personal productivity, while 6.4% reported a decrease in productivity.

Over half (51%) of the respondents reported difficulty “unplugging after work.” In balancing their home and work life, technology staff have begun working earlier and signing off later, taking more frequent breaks during the day resulting in extended hours and productivity. Because of factors like job security, it seems that staff has taken on more to show employers that they are working hard and engaged. How do you feel your technology staff has performed from a productivity perspective?

Greatest Advantages
Overall, respondents believe there are many advantages to working remotely. Commute time was the clear winner in “greatest advantages” with a score of 93.2%, ranking it as the number one advantage. Respondents also stated that “saving money” on items such as gas, lunch, and dry cleaning was in the top two, with 80.5% reporting. The ability to “wear whatever they liked” to work ranked high, with 58% of the vote, and 49.4% stated that the greatest advantage was “increased productivity.” While these advantages were expected, the sheer volume of responses calls attention to the fact that people actually saved money and time while experiencing freedom with both their attire and schedule. All of this resulted in increased productivity, according to the respondents. What do you think the greatest advantage of working from home has been?

Greatest Obstacles
As mentioned previously, 51% of respondents reported “unplugging after work” as the biggest obstacle they faced. In comparison, 36.6% feel that “access to team members” and “lack of collaboration “were among the greatest obstacles. While teams have utilized tools such as Zoom, GoToMeeting, and others, there was still a large group that wanted more access and collaboration. “Family interruptions” and “general distractions” were the third most notable obstacle receiving 22.5%, and “maintaining a high level of motivation” received 20% of the responses. Overall, the drive for productivity appears to have caused an indirect issue with unplugging after work. As we begin reopening, we will likely see this issue decrease in importance; however, it does show that the technology staff created solutions to increase their workload as opposed to decrease.

Tools and Office Set-Up
Overwhelmingly, 75% of the respondents reported that they have the necessary tools for optimum productivity with the caveat that many wish they had larger monitors. When discussing the need for dedicated workspace at home, 83% believe their home office work environment enabled them to focus, while only 4% believe it was inadequate. 86% of the respondents believe they have established “productive” or “very productive” work from home routines, and only 4% report not having a solid routine. While there was no time to truly set up home offices for every staff member, everyone seems to have done an excellent job in creating intelligent workspaces.

Company / Manager Communication
In reviewing the findings, 73% of the respondents reported that they were “satisfied with the level of communication with their manager”, while 18% would like more. Additionally, 66.6% of the respondents stated that they believe their company has communicated with them well, and they feel up to date with the company’s handling of COVID-19 and ongoing communication. NOTE: 10% feel out of touch with company views. When asked about “communication with their team members, “67% are satisfied with the current level and frequency of communication”. It seems that company communication has risen to the challenge, and employees appreciate it. How has your company handled communication over the last few months?

Job Security
Prior to COVID-19, respondents felt “very secure” in the positions with their company (74%), while 19% reported feeling “somewhat” or “very insecure”. During the height of the pandemic, the level of job security dropped to 59% (a delta of 15%) and the level of job insecurity rose to 30% (a delta of 11%). These numbers are not difficult to understand, but staff members do look to see job security return to the workplace. With unemployment at a record high, employers can take needed approaches to help staff feel secure in the workplace once again.

Return to the Office
Of no great surprise, 91% of the respondents reported feeling insecure about the return to the office within the next month. As businesses reopen, we should all keep in mind that the high majority of staff is concerned about being there, and every necessary step should be taken to reassure everyone that health and safety is a top priority.

This study represents the views of over 380 technology professionals across the Tri-State area. It’s important to share their insights into how the changes in their work environment have impacted their productivity and job security, and how employers can leverage the very best out of their people even in very trying times. Do the results presented here align with what you’re seeing in your own companies?

About Benchmark IT –Technology Talent
Benchmark IT –Technology Talent offers IT consulting, executive search, and direct hire recruitment and staffing services throughout the metro New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut area. Established in 2007, its proprietary recruitment process and dedication to precision, ethics, and personalized service have made them a trusted partner among Fortune-ranked companies, mid-market, start-ups, and growth-phase firms in the Tri-State area. For additional information, visit www.bmarkits.com