55% of Employees Say Productivity Has Gone Up While Working Remotely: Qualtrics Survey


Respondents see improvement in well-being too due to remote work.

The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant negative impact on the world in 2020. However, there were a few positive outcomes and new learnings that came from the pandemic. This is especially true when it comes to how we work. For example, people got an opportunity to find a work-life balance. More technological innovations helped people stay connected and collaborate better as they were forced to work from their homes. The pandemic taught us that new ways of thinking and working are possible.

Now, as many organizations contemplate returning to work, they should be mindful of the fact that a lot of their employees’ priorities and expectations have changed over a year. Hence, as companies form return-to-work strategies, they need to listen to their employees and customers about their wants and needs. Taking action based on the feedback will help them deliver better experiences in the future.

Qualtrics XM recently surveyed 4,000 employees worldwide who moved from in-person to remote work during the pandemic to understand how the pandemic affected their attitude towards working. The survey also wanted to identify their desires and expectations for the future of work. Based on the study, the organization came out with The Future of Work in 2021Opens a new window report.

The following are the key findings from the survey.

Also read: 21 HR Technology Trends for 2021 That Will Shape the Future of Work

1. Employee Connection to Their Work Community Improved

While the pandemic forced people to work remotely, more than half (53%) of the respondents felt that their company’s purposes resonated with them more now than before the pandemic. Further, for most people, the connection to their work community had either remained the same or improved over the last year. In fact, 35% felt more connected, while 39% felt they had the same connection as earlier.

Yet, the in-person office experience still appeals to people. People felt that they missed spontaneous interactions with colleagues, being around people, and exposure to a diverse set of perspectives when working remotely.

2. People’s Productivity and Well-Being Improved

About 55% of the surveyed employees said their productivity had gone up working remotely. Even their managers tend to agree with them, with 55% of managers saying their direct reports had become more productive. 31% of the employees said their productivity had improved because of flexible schedules, while 26% said it was because of eliminating commuting time. Among the respondents, more millennials and Gen Z believed they were more productive than the older generation.

Similarly, for every person that said their well-being had taken a hit, two said it had improved. It was seen that people who belonged to organizations that announced post-pandemic plans were 88% more likely to have seen improved well-being. Further, employees reporting improved well-being were 65% more likely to stick with their current employer long-term.

Also read: Future of Work: 10 Key Trends for the Next 10 Years

3. People Prefer Flexibility in Work

 The ability to move and live away from the office while still working led many employees to prefer working remotely. In fact, 80% of the employees considering new roles said the ability to work remotely was important. For employees who moved to a different place during the pandemic, nearly half (47%) do not plan to move back.

Having said that, it was seen that in July 2020, people were more than twice as likely to prefer working from home. However, by early 2021, people preferred the flexibility in getting back to the office.

A significant percentage of the respondents would want to get back to the office though not completely. People want to go to the office only a few times. For the first time during the pandemic, people enjoyed the flexible work schedules, personal workspace, and spending more time with family. While most people want to return to the office, they do not want to give up working from home entirely either. Only 27% of the respondents wanted to get back to the office full-time, and even fewer (7%) want to work from home full-time. About 73% would prefer to work remotely at least 1-2 days a week. In fact, more managers and executives prefer a hybrid work schedule than individual contributors.

People who prefer moving back to the office also expect a few changes and upgrades to their workspace. 46% of the employees want to see their office space layout change significantly after the pandemic.

Employees cited the following few changes that would improve remote productivity for them:

  • Access to office space and physical resources in the office when needed
  • Ability to meet colleagues in person when needed
  • Being able to plan ahead more reliably

4. People Want Some Changes to Stay

After almost a year of lockdown and almost empty airports, frequent business travels are more eager to get back in the air. According to the survey, about 61% of frequent business travelers want to return to the previous amount of travel or more after the pandemic. In fact, 36% would prefer to travel more than before.

While frequent business travelers are looking forward to getting back on the road or in the air, consumers prefer to have a few pandemic-era changes to stay. The following are the top three changes consumers want to remain:

  • Curbside grocery pickup
  • Pre-ordered shopping
  • On-street outdoor seating for restaurants

Also read: Future of Work Tech May Mean Less Tech

Key Takeaways

While the pandemic brought devastation, it also helped people discover newer and better ways of working. People realized that working from home or remotely actually improved productivity and well-being and the connection with their work community. These benefits have led to more people craving more flexibility when companies reopen. Organizations need to take note of these changing preferences and make necessary accommodations while creating their return-to-work strategies. This will create better experiences for their employees.