A new global research report by Lenovo highlights the triumphs, challenges and consequences of the sudden shift to work-from-home (WFH) during the COVID-19 pandemic and how companies and their IT departments can power the new era of working remotely that will follow.
The study, entitled “Technology and the Evolving World of Work,” looks at how employees worldwide are responding to the “new normal” after a majority of those surveyed (72 percent) confirmed a shift in their daily work dynamic in the last three months.
Survey respondents around the world feel more connected to their devices than ever as the ‘office’ becomes wherever their technology is. Eighty-five percent of those surveyed feel more reliant on their work PCs (laptops and/or desktop computer) than they did working from the office. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of the global workforce surveyed feel they are more productive working from home than when they were in the office. Fifty-two percent of respondents believe they will continue to WFH more than they did pre-COVID-19 even after social distancing measures lift.
Seventy-nine percent of participants agree that they have had to be their own IT person while working from home, and a majority of those surveyed believe employers should invest in more tech training to power WFH in the future.
Workers say they have had to make personal investments on tech when their employers have not.
Seven-in-ten employees surveyed globally said they purchased new technology to navigate working remotely. Nearly 40 percent of those surveyed have had to partially or fully fund their own tech upgrades. Globally, respondents say they have personally spent an average of $273 to upgrade or improve technology while working at home due to COVID-19.
New ways of working have also brought along its own set of aches and pains. Seventy-one percent of workers surveyed complain of new or worsening conditions, including headaches, back and neck pains, and difficulty sleeping. Having a proper WFH setup is important to minimizing discomfort, including proper furniture and a larger-sized external monitor that can ergonomically adjust to natural eye-level. Making time for breaks is also important since many built-in workday breaks for office workers (stretching, getting up to get coffee, going out for lunch, etc.) occur in different rhythms while working remotely.
Along with physical ailments, workers around the world identified other top challenges to the WFH experience: reduced personal connections with coworkers, an inability to separate work life from home life, and finding it hard to concentrate during work hours due to distractions at home. Training and implementation of high-quality video conferencing capabilities such as noise-canceling headphones and webcams on the work PC, tablet or phone can help employees feel more connected with colleagues and feeling less distracted at home.
Employees of all ages agree their top tech-specific concern is how it makes their companies more vulnerable to data breaches. As a result, enhanced security will need to be built into employees’ hardware, software and services (including deployment, set-up and maintenance) from the get-go and is especially critical within today’s remote work environment.
Although most respondents say tech makes them efficient and more productive, employees identified other ways that tech could improve to help them gain an advantage at work:
• Help them better maintain work-life balance
• Make it easier for employees to collaborate with others at outside companies and organizations
• Assist with multi-tasking and switching gears between projects more frequently
• Automate some of their daily tasks
On the emerging technology front, employees ranked 5G wireless network technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI)/machine learning as their top choices.