Research firm Leesman
, which specializes in the employee experience, has been running a global survey on the specifics of the WFH reality, and maintains a data repository compiled from more than 126,000 respondents in 83 countries. The results actually seem pretty encouraging; the headline numbers:
- 82% of respondents agree that, “My home environment enables me to work productively”
- For 73%, “When I work from home, I am able to maintain a healthy work-life balance”
- 66% agree that, “When I work from home, I feel connected to my colleagues”
Leesman asked about specific space arrangements and found that 40% of respondents have their own dedicated workroom or office; 31% have a dedicated work area but not a separate room; and 29% have a “non-specific home location” such as a dining table.
I was surprised that, with as sudden as the shift to all-WFH was, 40% of those surveyed had a spare room to devote to work. And while it seems like a positive starting point that 71% have some dedicated space, the Leesman survey shows that when it comes to more specific elements, office accommodations are the biggest shortfall for home workers.
Respondents rated their desk or worktable as the most important feature of the WFH setup at 90%, essentially tied with WiFi and just slightly ahead of the office chair at 89%. And yet when it comes to the reality of employees’ WFH setup, Leesman reported just 64% respondent satisfaction with their desk or table, and 57% satisfaction with their chair; WiFi did somewhat better at 77% satisfaction.
Enterprise leadership may be limited in how much they can help mitigate unsatisfactory office setups. If you’re one of those who don’t have any space you can dedicate for WFH, there’s no point in the employer providing you with a suitable chair and/or desk. But certainly, where there’s opportunity to upgrade the employee’s setup, enterprises should do so. An enterprise that’s downsizing its office square footage is likely to have surplus high-quality ergonomic chairs that workers could take home. Desks might be trickier given the communal nature of the setup in open offices — a long table or set of interlocking cubicles would be hard to move into most homes.
The final missing piece is connecting with colleagues. Per the Leesman survey, about two-thirds of home workers feel connected; is that number good or bad? It could be better, which is why enterprises are exploring a multitude of strategies and technology tools to enhance connectedness. This article
discusses software tools with names like Watercooler and Donut that act essentially as matchmakers within an employee base.
The article discusses the importance of serendipity in creating “watercooler moments,” but probably the greatest need for serendipity is in the quest itself for finding new, virtual means of connecting people. It seems unlikely that any HR or IT leader is going to spec out, or stumble upon, the one application that finally does the job. Employees will have to figure it out for themselves.