The Latest on Trend #1: Remote Work and Flexible Work Arrangements
2021 1st Quarter Update
Prior to and at the start of the pandemic, there were concerns that the work from home (WFH) set-up make would make employees feel like they were out an island and reduce productivity and teamwork. While some may still suffer feelings of isolation and disconnectedness by being out of the traditional office environment, recent research indicates that remote work creates a new type of challenge: collaboration overload. Microsoft’s latest Work Trend Index revealed startling upsurges in remote collaboration with virtual meeting time more than doubling and chat usage increasing 45% between February 2020 and February 2021.
“Zoom fatigue” seems to be the latest buzz phrase, as we have seen increasing reports on the dark side of remote work in this quarter. Stanford researchers are examining why spending all day on our webcams makes us feel so tired and are in the early stages of creating a Zoom Exhaustion & Fatigue Scale. Being on camera all day can result in cognitive overload, as we have to work harder to process non-verbal cues through a screen. SIOP member and University of Georgia professor Kristen Shockley, Ph.D., received a grant from the National Science Foundation to examine how workers are coping with the abrupt transition to telework and will be looking at Zoom fatigue as part of her study. You can learn more about how organizations can make the most of remote work arrangements by reading her SIOP White Paper.
Past research has shown that, when done well, remote work arrangements can lead to increased job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and job performance. Guidance from Gartner and HBR encourages employees to build in breaks, avoid multitasking, and reconsider the most appropriate communication channels for different types of work situations (Spoiler Alert: Picking up the phone or sending an email can work just as well – not everything has to be a Zoom meeting!). SIOP member Ronald Riggio, PhD, also recommends having a designated “work only” space to stay productive and focused while working remotely.
As vaccines continue to rollout across the globe, we will be keeping close tabs on how organizations handle the return to work. We have already seen corporate giants like Ford and Facebook offer WFH options indefinitely. Will we truly see a “new normal” come to fruition or will more companies return to “business as usual” once it is safe to do so? Stay tuned for more in Q2!
For more exciting research on remote work, join us for the upcoming SIOP conference. There will be a session led by Amy E. Crook, Ashley Rittmayer Hanks, and Katharine O. Murray on Remote Workforces in a Post-COVID-19 World, a symposium hosted by a panel of experts on Remote Work in the Time of COVID, and more!