Latest Research Suggests Working From Home is Creating New Challenges

In a week that saw Boris Johnson urge people to go back work in the UK, Microsoft released it’s latest “The Future of Work” research.

There are some interesting findings that raise some questions for all businesses looking at how to integrate remote working into their longer-term strategy.

 

Foreword

As with all research one must try and bear in mind the wider context and be wary of inherent bias. Microsoft's research coincided with the launch of new feature updates added to MS Teams and Microsoft making Teams available outside of Office 365 for the first time, likely in response to the huge market share Zoom has gained during the lockdown. The research looks at some commercial challenges, but perhaps not all of the user challenges. With that in mind, lets take a look.

 

Fatigue and concentration

The crux of Microsoft’s research found that as lockdown has progressed, video meeting fatigue has started to increase. Using physiological signal monitoring, the research showed that sustained concentration during a video conference leads to fatigue. They point to factors such as concentrating on multiple feeds of meeting attendees, distractions from seeing your own video feed and the difficulty in reading non-verbal cues.

I think its fair to say with the widespread “Zooming”, we’ve all experienced a bit of fatigue. In part due to the nature of a work week that rapidly builds back to back meetings throughout the day. Sometimes it can be hard to find breaks between meetings to stop and review what was discussed or even carry out the work agreed.

 

Silver Bullet

Videoconferencing and remote working has undoubtedly saved many businesses during this difficult time. It enabled many businesses to keep operating while the office was closed and kept colleagues, clients, suppliers and partners in contact throughout.

Is remote working the long term ‘silver bullet’ it’s been widely hailed as?

The research found that many people have found balancing home life with work demands difficult, especially amongst Gen Z and millennials. Many of which are caring for younger children or sharing workspaces with roommates while managing their professional duties from home.

(Excerpt from Microsoft "The future of work—the good, the challenging & the unknown" July 8th)

Within Videocall, we’ve seen that those working in quieter households have found they are more productive with the flexibility working from home has brought, but many of those with busy family households are keen to get back to the office to work in peace in quiet.

But one very positive by-product is that 62% found said “They feel more empathetic toward their colleagues now they have a better view of their life at home.”

 

Building Company Culture

The research showed that many workers felt more included when all of their colleagues attended video meetings, but we’ve seen challenges amongst our clients who are struggling to maintain or build a company culture due to the separation and isolation.

A quick glance through Linkedin shows some of the great ways new starters have been welcomed to companies, despite never having met their colleagues face to face and initiatives companies and managers have instituted to try and replace the culture and esprit de corps that is naturally generated by working alongside your team and meeting face-to-face.

Many managers are now wondering what the longer-term impacts will be on integrated workflows?

 

Question Marks

Microsoft’s research makes for a fascinating read for IT service managers (as long as it’s context is considered) and un-intentionally starts raising a lot of questions for IT departments and management everywhere. The future of working will likely feature remote working and greater flexibility as a result of the change of attitudes towards remote working, both old fashioned prejudices and new learnings but brings with it a range of new challenges.

What new challenges are you starting to see now that many are used to remote working as part of their routine?

How is your organisation tackling the issues of protecting integrated workflows and maintaining company culture?

Will remote working be a long term feature after the return to the office?

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