March 13, 2020 – Staying at home may be the best way to stay safe in these early days of the global coronavirus crisis, but it also happens to be the best way to get the most done at work. That is according to a new Korn Ferry survey of professionals regarding working virtually. The vast majority of respondents (88 percent) said they are more productive when they work virtually, and 84 percent said they actually work more when they don’t go into the office.
More than a third (38 percent) said they work virtually full time, with a third (33 percent) saying they work remotely one to two days per week. The majority (82 percent) said that when they work remotely, they work from home.
According to the survey, working virtually has become much more accepted, as 80 percent said their employer has become more favorable to remote workers in the last two years. Seventy-nine percent said working virtually does not hinder their career advancement and 78 percent say their colleagues who go into the office every day do not resent them for working virtually.
“The virtual work phenomenon is here to stay, and it’s only going to involve more people over time” said Jeanne MacDonald, president of global RPO solutions for Korn Ferry. “To be successful, virtual workers need to show that they can be productive anywhere, engage with their boss and teams and enter the workplace strategically. The more they are seen, the more successful they will be when working virtually.”
The survey showed that there are some drawbacks to working virtually. The largest percentage of respondents (37 percent) said the biggest obstacle to remote working is loneliness, followed by technical/connectivity issues (32 percent).
Even as some organizations ponder shorter official work weeks, more and more jobs are coming with the expectation, sometimes unspoken, that employees should be available at any time. Bosses may think they’re squeezing extra productivity out of their direct reports, but it’s that type of pressure that can depress employee engagement.
In one recent survey by LinkedIn, in fact, 80 percent of working adults say they feel increased job stress on Sunday nights. In one notorious example, the CEO of one firm said she texted prospective job candidates at random times on Sunday and ruled out those who don’t respond promptly.
“With solid access to the right tools and technology, along with regular interaction with colleagues – such as video conferencing or occasional in-person meetings – remote workers can and should feel productive and part of a team,” said Ms. MacDonald.
The Korn Ferry global survey took place in January 2020 and garnered 753 responses.
How often do you work virtually?
Full time 38 percent
3-4 days/week 12 percent
1-2 days/week 33 percent
Almost never 17 percent
Do you feel working virtually hinders career advancement?
Yes 21 percent
No 79 percent
Are you more or less productive when working virtually?
More productive 88 percent
Less productive 12 percent
If you work virtually, do you feel like you work less or more?
Less 16 percent
More 84 percent
If you work virtually, where do you most often work?
Home 82 percent
Coffee shop 2 percent
Shared space 8 percent
In transit (cars, airports, trains) 7 percent
Has your employer become more or less favorable to working remotely in the last 2 years?
More favorable 80 percent
Less favorable 20 percent
What’s the biggest obstacle to working virtually?
Background noise 0 percent
Being interrupted 9 percent
Being asked to do chores 5 percent
Getting distracted 17 percent
Loneliness 37 percent
Technology/connectivity issues 32 percent
How do you connect with your boss/office if you work virtually?
Regular check-in calls/video conferencing 53 percent
Planning for periodic facetime in the office 14 percent
Emails 27 percent
Texting 6 percent
Have you ever pretended you were working virtually, when actually you were “out having fun” at a baseball game, beach, golfing, etc?
Yes 11 percent
No 89 percent
Do your non-virtual working colleagues resent you for working virtually?
Yes 78 percent
No 22 percent
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media