Wundamail’s annual State Of Remote Work report investigates the behavioural science and economic data behind the UK’s recent shift toward a culture of remote working.
The 2500 remote workers surveyed were representative by region across the UK, ethnic background, socio-economic status, gender, and inclusion of both high-income and low-income bracket workers. Wundamail collected all data between 16/08/19 and 18/08/19.
The respondents worked for teams of three or more, across a range of blue-chip enterprises, large companies and micro-businesses. We surveyed a nationally representative sample in order to gauge the benefits and challenges facing British remote workers today.
The State Of Play
With 1 in 5 UK businesses choosing to adopt remote working policies, we take a look at the benefits. The Wundamail survey results indicated that 74% of respondents felt that working remotely increased their productivity overall, certainly a positive sign for companies looking to reduce overheads.
The prevailing narrative is that remote workers are isolated, disengaged or cut off from company culture. Wundamail research indicated that many of these preconceptions are unfounded, particularly when companies prioritise good quality online communication. For example, 60% of remote workers feel their contributions are valued highly within their team, and 71% receive all forms of praise and recognition via communication technology.
Potential dangers do still lurk for those managing remote teams, however. An overwhelming 42% still feel they suffer a lack of support on a daily basis, compared to their regular office counterparts. Furthermore, 61% admitted they did not feel “part of the team” to the same extent as regular office workers.
Respondents reported that the biggest ‘productivity barrier’ that they face is communication (47%), followed closely by maintaining focus and motivation (39%), and thirdly time management (14%).
Challenges Facing Remote Managers
While remote workers report less stress and solid career growth, the survey highlights how miscommunication between managers and virtual employees is still rife.
An astonishing 55% reported that their manager or “does not fully understand what I do each day”- a very worrying revelation indeed for those who monitor, motivate and lead teams across the globe.
Distance can pose a real threat to productivity when it comes to holding remote workers accountable. Our respondents were asked, “given the lack of supervision, are you ever tempted to “push the boundaries” of flexible working?”. The answers betrayed a worrying lack of responsibility, honesty and trustworthiness.
A shocking 34% of respondents admitted that they had “previously taken advantage of the lack of supervision” remote working offers, and 66% admitted that they “had been tempted to push the boundaries” in the past. This news will likely prove an unwelcome wake-up call for companies investing predominantly in remote workers. When it comes to integrating remote working policies, organisations such as Dell, Amazon, Amex, Xerox, Phillips and Hilton are leading the charge.
The future looks bright for online communication within the context of remote work, with 74% of respondents reporting that “communication technology improves my overall productivity”. That said, 15% also reported that “I find communication technology distracting or disruptive”, and a further 14% said they "find communication technology stressful”. Of this group, many of the respondents identified with more than one option, suggesting that remote workers find communication technology simultaneously useful and productive, but also distracting or stressful at the same time.