Although the COVID-19 pandemic has led to economic, health, and social devastation, it has also created an unprecedented opportunity: to run the world’s biggest-ever workplace experiment.
To assess employee sentiment on these changes, from the end of May through mid-June we surveyed more than 12,000 professionals employed before and during COVID-19 in the US, Germany, and India. The respondents work in roles such as analysts, engineers, HR personnel, teachers, and health care providers (but generally not in jobs performed onsite such as cashiers or assembly line workers). We explored their attitudes toward flexibility, productivity (on individual, collaborative, and managerial tasks), well-being, career security, social connectivity, culture, learning and development, and the work tools they use.
The responses to the survey yielded unexpected insights. Given the speed and scale of the pandemic-related changes and the fact that employers had no time to prepare staff for the shift to remote work, we expected to see a decline in employee productivity. But while some respondents did report such a drop, a surprisingly large number said they have been able to maintain or even improve their productivity. The responses also reveal a significant shift in employee expectations for the future of work, with a keen appetite for flexible ways of working—and increased openness to this from managers. What’s more, when we analyzed what lay behind the survey results, we uncovered key factors that are critical to maintaining and improving productivity in hybrid remote/onsite and completely remote settings.
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