Everything you need to know about working remotely in 2021

The remote working revolution started back in March when the then novel coronavirus shuttered offices around the country in what many expected to be a flyover virus. Since then, the virus has become a global pandemic, resulting in more than 357,000 deaths, according to The New York Times.

Despite vaccinations starting to rollout through the US, the coronavirus pandemic has impacted the way we work and will likely mean big changes for years to come. One of those changes will be whether there’s a place for a physical office again, or if working remotely is here for good.

Judging workers’ temperature on the work-from-home experience, many are in favor of it.

Eighty-one percent of working professionals said they enjoy working remotely, according to a new study conducted by LiveCareer, a website that focuses on jobs and career development.

The study, which polled over 1,000 Americans on their remote work experience, focused on some key elements that were put into focus due to the pandemic and shift to WFH: the physical, social, and emotion costs of working remotely.

As many in the past have argued that a flexible work schedule would create change in their work-life balance, more than half of respondents (65%) said that the change to home offices has positively affected their lives. With mental health at the forefront for offices during the pandemic, the increased isolation and decreased social interaction posed a challenge.

Workers have been limited to digital communication with colleagues, often through Zoom or messaging platforms. Despite less time spent in-person, 30% of respondents said they strongly disagree that their mental health deteriorated since the pandemic’s beginning. It’s worth noting that a quarter of respondents said they agreed that their mental health took a toll while working remotely, which suggests that working from home isn’t for everyone.

The biggest challenge for workers at home is staying focused. Fifty-nine percent of workers said home distractions was the biggest hurdle in getting their brain on work mode. Such distractions include children learning remotely, balancing home chores, and maybe even general laziness. Forty-five percent said staying motivated was a struggle (perhaps you should not work from bed) while communication and collaboration has been difficult, for 37% and 36%, respectively.

Loneliness has been a problem for more than a third of workers despite efforts by companies to provide support during the pandemic through team-bonding activities like game night, movie night, and virtual happy hours.

Communication is clearer remotely

While many feared the shift to homes would bring disruption in workflow, communication hasn’t changed as much as it expected to. Forty-six percent of respondents said their communication with direct managers and colleagues has remained the same, but 31% said it has actually improved since the start of the pandemic.

Furthermore, remote employees have a clearer sense of what’s expected from them at home compared to the office. Forty-six percent of remote workers said they are more aware of exceptions versus when they were in the office.

A downside of remote work comes on the feedback end. Thirty-five percent of remote workers said they don’t get as much feedback compared to when they were on site.

‘I’ll quit!’

It’s become pretty clear that workers envision a future where working from home is at least offered. Sixty-one percent of respondents said they want their employer to let them work remotely indefinitely after after the pandemic ends, despite 79% of respondents expecting to return to on-site work eventually.

But perhaps the biggest surprise from the survey is how employees will look quit and look elsewhere if they can’t continue working remotely. Twenty-nine percent of employees said they’d quit their current job if they weren’t allowed to continue to work from home.

Employees said three days in the office would be ideal when returning back to work, while 25% called for two days.

Things you need to do to improve your WFH setup

March will mean a year since the entire workforce shifted to work from home, which means if you haven’t actually invested in pieces for your remote working life, it might be time to do so.

Productivity expert and author Donna McGeorge told Yahoo! Finance that employees need to dedicate an area of their homes for work. That means laying in bed isn’t going to work moving forward.

“A temporary workspace at your kitchen bench won’t cut it,” said McGeorge. “You need to designate, even if it is in the corner of a small apartment, a dedicated work space.”

Other hacks like setting alarms, balancing work flow, and taking breaks are helpful ways to get the most from your work-from-home life, McGeorge said.