The employee priority revolution continues, with employees showing no sign of wanting to go back to pre-Covid patterns of behaviour, yet research from automation platform firm Ivanti is warning that remote work is a double-edged sword, with a small but noticeable minority noting that the new normal has had a negative effect on their mental health.
Ivanti canvassed the opinions of 4,510 office workers and 1,609 IT professionals in the US, UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Brussels, Spain, Sweden and Australia to understand their attitudes to remote work, points of disagreements among different demographics, and the specific benefits and concerns they have taken from the remote working experience thus far.
Leading this sentiment is the finding that almost three-quarters (71%) of respondents said they would prefer to work from anywhere rather than get a promotion. Looking at potential future of work models, the research found that 42% of employees prefer a hybrid model of work, a 5% increase since the last study.
Automation will become increasingly important as environments are expected to continue to get more complicated. In fact, 15% of respondents said they would prefer to work from anywhere, an 87% increase since the last study. Just over a fifth (22%) of respondents said they became digital nomads during the pandemic, and 18% said they are considering becoming a digital nomad.
Looking to the future, 26% of survey respondents said they hope IT will provide new hardware such as laptops, desktops and mobile devices in 2022, and 26% hope IT will modernise the service desk. Among IT professionals, the desire to modernise the service desk rises to 32%.
Only 13% of respondents said they would like to work permanently in the office, an 11% decrease since the firm’s last study. Almost a third of employees said they would prefer to work from home permanently – a 20% decrease since the last study – demonstrating, said Ivanti, that many are looking to interact with colleagues again.
The company suggested this decrease could also be attributed to the fact that while remote work has brought many positive changes – respondents indicated that the top three benefits they have realised since working remotely have been time savings due to less commuting (48%), better work-life balance (43%) and a more flexible work schedule (43%) – there have been some drawbacks. In fact, 49% of respondents said they have been negatively affected in some way by remote work. Among the top concerns were lack of interaction with colleagues (51%), not being able to collaborate or communicate effectively (28%), and noise and distractions (27%).
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Moreover, and most worryingly, the study revealed the toll the pandemic has taken on employees’ mental health. As many as 70% of IT women respondents reported experiencing negative effects from remote work, compared with only 30% of male respondents in the same group reporting negative effects.
Additionally, many employees were seen to be feeling the effects of losing a personal connection with co-workers (9%) and being expected to work longer hours than when in the office (6%).
The report also showed the further gender divide: 56% of female respondents said remote work has affected their mental health negatively, compared with 44% of men. While 52% of women reported having lost a personal connection with co-workers, compared with 47% of men.
The study also found just under a quarter (24%) of respondents have left their job in the past year, during the Great Resignation, and 28% are considering leaving in the next six months.
Assessing the key trends revealed, the company said it was clear that people believe they can go anywhere and work for anyone, so that means companies have to shift their retention tactics towards implementing the best technology that makes everyone’s jobs easier, and more fun.
“The pandemic has catalysed a monumental shift in where and how people work,” said Jeff Abbott, CEO of Ivanti, commenting on the study.
“The good news is that by increasing automation of common or mundane tasks, companies can improve work-life balance for IT and security teams, plus prevent data breaches and most importantly improve employee experiences. For example, Ivanti Neurons allows IT departments to reduce complexity, anticipate security threats, reduce unplanned outages and resolve endpoint issues before employees report them.”