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What Do Employees Want When They Return to the Office?

It’s easy to assume we know what they want due to a dangerous judgment error termed the false consensus effect. This problematic mental blindspot causes us to perceive others who we feel to be in our team as sharing our beliefs. That’s often not the case.

The false consensus effect is one of over 100 misleading mental patterns that researchers in behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience call cognitive biases.Fortunately, by learning about how to defeat the harmful impact of these dangerous judgment errors, we can make the wisest and most profitable decisions.

Survey Says…

To address the false consensus effect, we need to turn to objective data that doesn’t rely on our gut feelings and assumptions. A good way to do so is to examine the insights gleaned from several in-depth surveys of employees on post-pandemic remote work published recently. Here are the key conclusions of a meta-analysis comparing all of these studies:

  1. Over two-thirds of all employees who worked remotely in the pandemic want and expect to work from home half the time or more permanently, while over a fifth want to work remotely full-time
  2. Over two-fifths would leave their current job if they didn’t have the option of remote work of two to three days per week
  3. Over a quarter plan to leave their job after the pandemic, especially those who rate their company cultures as “C” or lower
  4. Over two-fifths of all employees, especially younger ones, would feel concern over career progress if they worked from home while other employees like them did not
  5. Most employees see telework and the flexibility it provides as a key benefit, and are willing to sacrifice substantial earnings for it
  6. Employees are significantly more productive on average when working from home
  7. Over three-quarters of all employees will feel happier and more engaged, be willing to go the extra mile, feel less stressed, and have more work-life balance with permanent opportunity for two to three days of telework
  8. Over half of all employees feel overworked and burned out, and over three-quarters experience “Zoom fatigue” and want less meetings
  9. Employees need funding for home offices and equipment, but no more than 25% of companies provided such funding so far
  10. Over three-fifths of all employees report poor virtual communication and collaboration as their biggest challenge with remote work, and many want more training in these areas

What Does Other Research Say?

Other research backs up this information. Consider a survey comparing productivity of in-person vs. remote workers during the first six months of stay-at-home orders, March through August 2020, to the same March through August period in 2019. Employees showed a more than 5% increase in productivity over this period. Another study surveying 800 employers reported that 94% found that remote workers showed higher or equal productivity than before the pandemic. Non-survey research similarly shows significant productivity gains for remote workers during the pandemic.

Some might feel worried that these productivity gains are limited to the context of the pandemic. Fortunately, research shows that after a forced period of work from home, if workers are given the option to keep working from home, those who choose to do so experience even greater productivity gains than in the initial forced period.

An important academic paper from the University of Chicago provides further evidence of why working at home will stick. First, the researchers found that working at home proved a much more positive experience, for employers and employees alike, than either anticipated. That led employers to report a willingness to continue work-from-home after the pandemic.

Second, an average worker spent over 14 hours and $600 to support their work-from home. In turn, companies made large-scale investments in back-end IT facilitating remote work. Some paid for home office/equipment for employees. Furthermore, remote work technology has improved over this time. Therefore, both workers and companies will be more invested into telework after the pandemic.

Third, stigma around telework has greatly decreased. Such normalization of work from home makes it a much more viable choice for employees.

The paper shows that employees perceive telework as an important perk. On average, they value it as 8% of their salary. The authors also find that most employers plan to move to a hybrid model after the pandemic, having employees come in about half the time. Given the higher productivity that the paper’s authors find results from remote work, they conclude that the post-pandemic economy will see about a six percent productivity boost.

Conclusion

Second, an average worker spent over 14 hours and $600 to support their work-from home. In turn, companies made large-scale investments in back-end IT facilitating remote work. Some paid for home office/equipment for employees. Furthermore, remote work technology has improved over this time. Therefore, both workers and companies will be more invested into telework after the pandemic.


Written by Dr. Gleb Tsipursky.

Track Latest News Live on CEOWORLD magazine and get news updates from the United States and around the world. The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow CEOWORLD magazine on Twitter and Facebook. For media queries, please contact: info@ceoworld.biz

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky
Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is an internationally-renowned thought leader in future-proofing and cognitive bias risk management. He serves as the CEO of the boutique future-proofing consultancy Disaster Avoidance Experts, which specializes in helping forward-looking leaders avoid dangerous threats and missed opportunities.

A best-selling author, he wrote Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (Career Press, 2019), The Blindspots Between Us: How to Overcome Unconscious Cognitive Bias and Build Better Relationships (New Harbinger, 2020), and Resilience: Adapt and Plan for the New Abnormal of the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic (Changemakers Books, 2020). His writing was translated into Chinese, Korean, German, Russian, Polish, and other languages. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training for mid-size and large organizations ranging from Aflac to Xerox. It also comes from over 15 years in academia as a behavioral scientist, including 7 as a professor at Ohio State University.


Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow him on LinkedIn. For more information, visit the author’s website.