Highlights from the Benchmark IT “Work from Home” Survey

In June, Benchmark IT released our “Work from Home” survey, which detailed the perspectives of over 350 respondents about what it was like working from home amid COVID-19.

The survey results are top lined in the infographic below, and the full report is available for download here. Additionally, many respondents answered open-ended questions and shared anecdotal insights and comments regarding their work from home experience. While not included in the initial report, that feedback is highlighted here.

As we enter August, which for many means month six of working from home, we thought it would help share some of their observations. They provide an interesting glimpse of where we were in June, but moreover, offer potential action-items to companies or departments looking for ways to keep and build team momentum as we head into an uncertain fall.

What would you suggest would help you feel more connected to the company?

Many respondents spoke about more frequent communication from senior management in the form of a virtual “Town Hall,” as reflected in this observation:

“Maybe a town hall, virtually, of course, to hear from our executive management regarding post-COVID scenarios for working either at home or the office.”

While most respondents felt that communication with their direct management was good, several reported a need for increased corporate leadership communication:

“Honest and more frequent communication from outside the IT dept. Within has been very good.”

Almost 37% of respondents reported that “access to team members” and “lack of team collaboration” were their most significant obstacles working remotely. This sentiment reflects what many respondents expressed: a need for more social time with co-workers:

“Friday’s brown bag sessions with all departments to be connected with my multi-functional teams and get to know them.”

“As we cannot meet colleagues physically, it’s better to have virtual happy hours to discuss all non-work-related stuff.”

Is there anything else you wish to share about your work from home experience?

With such a broad, open-ended question, responses tended to run the gamut. However, most feedback falls into three clear buckets. 1) People love working from home, and many hope for a post-COVID workplace hybrid; 2) People with children encounter more difficulty balancing home/work life; 3) Several report a preference for an in-office work model.

Here are some outtakes from each:

On Love of Working from Home and the Future Workplace:

“Life/work balance increase of 85%. My overall health and well-being are more manageable. I have more brain energy to focus and bring excellence to my tasks and think strategically.”

“Working from home has been the best experience ever from both a mental health and work ethic perspective. I’ve saved substantial amounts of money and time commuting (at least 1.5 hours a day). This has allowed me to get more sleep and be extremely productive at work. I feel work from home should continue to be a staple of the workplace.”

“Despite the drawbacks of working remotely, so far, everyone has mostly maintained their productivity. This proves that when things return to normal, there should be no restrictions placed on employees working from home when necessary.”

“I feel working from home is great, but it doesn’t need to be 100% work from home. In IT, you can find a balance to do both…Maybe one-week work from home three or four out of five days, depending on the situation. The more flexible, the better. IT is an area that can be flexible, just as it is sometimes necessary to be on call 24×7.

“WFH is great and the way forward, however, I need the occasional in-person experience.”

On Family/Work-life Challenges:

“It’s not only working from home, there are other factors, homeschooling, cooking, etc. while working. So, navigating these challenging at times is not easy.”

“It will be exponentially better once the kids are in school.”

“Concerned for childcare if camps are closed is the most important thing. It also extends to re-opening of schools in the fall.”

“It’s definitely more difficult with kids at home during the workday. Also, miss the in-person social interaction and after-work activities.

On Working in an Office:

“Not sure I can do long term. Prefer the consistency of the office but would not mind a day here or there.”

“It’s nice but I love the office environment.”

“I’ve never liked working from home, so I can’t wait to work from my desk in the office. I like to keep work at the office and my home as a place of peace and comfort. Right now, there’s no separation since it all takes place in the same spot.”

“As convenient as no commuting is, continuously not having physical interaction with others can at times feel isolating.”

Are there any productivity tips you wish to share about your work from home experience?

Resoundingly, routine, routine, and routine were the universal mantra for those offering their best work from home advice. And while a routine may have many individual nuances, there was a definite theme among what most considered necessary for a productive one.

“Get to work” on time and fully dressed every day no matter what. I feel better being logged in at exactly 8 than I do arriving even 5 minutes late.”

“Productivity tips: Get up and get dressed—NO JAMS! Work the same hours you always did. Take a real lunch break and use that time to do errands. If a friend calls, give him/her five minutes, and then excuse yourself and go back to work.”

“Get going first thing in the morning, start the day off being productive, whether it’s a work task or a home task. Keep a regular schedule, and book time for family lunches and dinners.”

“Routine! Look at this virtual time as permanent so you designate a specific permanent workspace that does not need to be moved around to accommodate dinner. Get up and get dressed for work daily. Pajamas do not help put your mind in “work mode.” At the end of the day, shut down your office and commit to “going home.”

Other important tips included having adequate technology, a good chair, noise-cancelling headphones/earbuds, and a workspace that enables productivity, where-ever that may be.

Closing thoughts

Back in March, most of us thought that working from home would be temporary. Now, almost six months later, there’s still no definitive end in sight. Even if you’re living in a state or community that has managed to contain the pandemic, the possibility exists for a resurgence and possible lockdown.

Having the right tools, team, and attitude are essential to maintaining productivity amid constant uncertainty. Communication with your teams, your management, and your families is crucial to maintaining a healthy outlook and productive work and home life.

As we approach September (often considered the “New January”) and the pressures of 4th Quarter, ask yourself how you, your teams, your management, and your family can refine and enhance your work from home experience. There’s always room for a new way of looking at things, especially during uncertain times.

Over the past six months, our team at Benchmark IT has been talking with hundreds of IT candidates and clients, and we’ve heard multiple stories about what works and what doesn’t. Give us a call if you’d like to learn more about enhancing your individual or departmental IT productivity or morale, or if you’d just like to chat about your work from home experience.

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