Feelings of isolation and alienation are plaguing workforces across the world as remote work spurred by the global pandemic continues. Results of a recent research study revealed a multitude of employee concerns in regards to working from home. The research was led and released by Canadian-based partners, inclusive workplace learning company Dialectic and intranet software platform Jostle.
Overarching results from the study, which sought to understand how remote work affects employee inclusion and connection, reveal social isolation, communication obstacles, technological challenges and work/life balance implications. These new barriers intersect with and may further compound existing barriers to inclusion, such as discrimination, underrepresentation and stereotypes.
With 82 per cent of respondents reporting communication obstacles and 83 per cent reporting feeling disconnected from their workplace culture, it’s safe to say remote work has muted many norms and practices of workplace culture that build belonging. The study also revealed 35 per cent of participants feel their managers give them more responsibilities, but 54 per cent feel their supervisor does not provide them the support needed to deal with issues arising from working remotely. As transactional work relationships have become the norm, managerial support is limited. Asking employees to shoulder more responsibility with less support is untenable in the long run and could lead to costly burnout and turnover.
“The clear message from our research is the cost of short term planning is a long term negative impact on human inclusion and connection at work,” says Bev Attfield, lead researcher and Principal of Workplace Science at Jostle.
Feelings of unfulfillment were reported, as 80 per cent of people feel they have access to the tools and resources they need to work remotely, but 30 per cent feel less fulfilled by their work. It is possible leadership has not been promoting enough time off, with 52 per cent of participants experiencing stress at work in the past year caused by work overload, and 70 per cent taking fewer sick days than in years past. 59 per cent report using few to no sick days for mental health reasons.
“Employee well-being, productivity, performance and ultimately retention are at risk so long as organizations do not shift their approach to prioritize workplace culture and start adding the human element back into their workplaces,” says Dr. Aaron Barth, lead researcher and Founder and president of Dialectic.
The survey included over 400 employees 18+ who had transitioned to remote work in the past year without changing employers. It was dispatched from Nov 23, 2020 to Jan 17, 2021, with respondents based all over the world. Participant makeup included 45 per cent of respondents from Canada, 38 per cent from the United States and additional responses from the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, France, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and Sweden, among others.
The reality is remote work is here to stay, with 75 per cent of respondents saying they would choose to continue working remotely, with a desire to do so almost two thirds of the time. This survey aims to help leaders address the barriers to inclusion created or exacerbated by the rapid shift to remote work to improve workplace culture.
Those serious about their work culture need to reimagine their approach. To create a sustainable strategy, organizations must de-escalate from crisis mode as soon as possible and return their focus to the human side of work. This model would connect employees and build supportive workplace cultures, regardless of where people are located.
To access a full summary of the findings, please click here.