by Chuck Chapman, Content Strategy Coordinator
A recent study by social media scheduling platform Buffer delivered some fascinating data that leads to some inescapable conclusions about the future of remote work. Buffer surveyed 2500 remote workers and business owners from the US, Canada and other countries about some of the most common issues facing remote workers.
Here are four truths that are borne out by the information collected by Buffer:
Remote workers are extremely satisfied.
An amazing 99% of respondents said they were satisfied with their current remote work situation and would like to continue working remotely (at least in part) for the remainder of their careers. 99 per cent! I can’t imagine another question that would elicit such a degree of agreement among workers other than “Would you like to continue to get paid for your work?”
Not only were the respondents in lock-step with regard to their satisfaction, 95% indicated they would recommend remote work to someone else. Taken with other results that show companies are mostly satisfied with the results they’re getting from their remote teams, and it’s safe to say remote work isn’t going anywhere and will likely only grow.
Remote workers struggle with boundaries.
It’s much easier leaving work at the office when the office is in a different physical location. You leave the stuff you need to do work at the office and the commute serves as a time to “log out” of your work mind and prepare for re-entering the atmosphere of home.
For those who work from home, not having those built-in barriers between home and work can make it difficult to truly “clock out.” According to the Buffer survey, 22% of respondents confess to having difficulty unplugging from work or establishing firm boundaries between work time and personal time.
That’s the flip-side of the flexibility coin Kevin and Wayne talk about often. A continued inability to establish these boundaries will lead to burnout, dissatisfaction and a loss of productivity.
Home is where the work gets done.
Despite almost limitless flexibility in where to work, 84% of the respondents said they prefer to work from home. This is despite a Starbucks on almost every street corner, countless local coffee shops and restaurants catering to business professionals, and co-working facilities popping up in every locale and community.
It makes sense, though. There’s no commute to the home office and there’s every degree of convenience and flexibility. The real question (which isn’t answered by the survey) is whether home is actually the best location to work. Many might still answer “yes,” but for some getting out of the house might actually be more productive and limit the sense of isolation that can affect remote workers.
Remote work isn’t all or nothing.
The vast majority of organizations employing remote workers are doing so as part of “hybrid” teams that utilize both remote workers and office-located staff. That finding is consistent with what Kevin and Wayne found when researching for The Long-Distance Leader.
That dynamic creates some unique demands for leaders, which Kevin and Wayne address throughout the book. The Buffer data doesn’t suggest any change in this dynamic or any increase toward totally remote teams. That’s true for a number of reasons, chief among them the nature of work. Many organizations have (and always will have) roles that cannot be performed remotely.
Reading Buffer’s findings only reinforces the value and practical wisdom in The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership. In there you’ll find research that confirms much of what Buffer has found as well as solutions for many of the problems the survey uncovers.
Remote work is indeed here to stay, and leaders who want to remain relevant will adapt to this change in the workforce.