- Despite extreme circumstances, most Americans are enjoying remote work
- Many have pointed to improved work-life balance and increased job satisfaction
- Americans are more opposed to office return than global counterparts
SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Atlassian Corporation Plc (NASDAQ: TEAM), a leading provider of team collaboration and productivity software, today announced the launch of a global study into distributed working. The report, titled, Reworking Work: Understanding The Rise of Work Anywhere, was conducted by Australian research agency Paper Giant and surveyed more than 5,000 participants in Australia, France, Germany, Japan, and the US using observational, qualitative, and ethnographic research methodologies.
It shows how the nuances of modern work have been amplified, demanding a shift in the way organizations manage an increasingly distributed workforce. Knowledge workers have had to balance dramatic changes in personal and professional lives, juggling more than ever in order to be successful. Globally, 44 percent cited work-life balance as the single biggest change felt in this period.
Despite the sudden and severe shift to almost fully remote work in late March brought on by COVID-19, Americans across the board have reported positive remote working experiences, empowered by the flexibility and convenience this new way of working has offered.
Millions of Americans began working from home in late March when some states imposed early and tight restrictions due to the rate of community transmission. In the face of these restrictions, however, optimism shone through. Over half (55 percent) of Americans surveyed noted they found working effectively from home during COVID-19 easy, with 44 percent suggesting their work-life balance has improved as a result.
In fact, Americans have enjoyed remote work so much, more than half (53 percent) noted they would prefer to work at home even if they had to cover the added costs.
Even prior to the pandemic, Americans were better prepared for this distributed work transition. Over half (51 percent) of surveyed respondents had already worked in distributed teams prior to COVID-19. With many organizations having offices spanning Alaska to Alabama as well as overseas operations, distributed environments were less foreign to American workers, bridging knowledge gaps in regard to working with those in different locations.
There are also a number of interesting observations from the COVID period when we look through a gender lens. Without the performative elements of work, many women in the US have felt liberated from expectations to present in a certain way and were able to simply focus on their jobs. 41 percent of all US women surveyed say their confidence in their ability to achieve has improved since the move to remote work. This is better understood when we cross-compare that figure to the 50 percent of men who believed the same.
This is not to say it’s been a totally positive experience. Having been one of the hardest countries hit by the pandemic, there is still some anxiety amongst the American workforce. Very few Americans (12 percent) are prepared to return to an office setting, a sentiment that is better understood when we consider 67 percent of Americans are nervous about returning to the office without a vaccine in place, compared to 53 percent of the global sample.
“We’ve been seeing a shift to a more distributed way of work for some time, and many businesses understood that giving staff more flexibility over how and where they work would pay dividends in the long run. What we didn’t envisage was how a pandemic was going to throw accelerant on these plans,” says Dom Price, work futurist at Atlassian.
“While we may know how to excel at teamwork in the workplace, the workplace as we know it has fundamentally changed. People everywhere are working under new and constantly shifting unique contexts which means the future of work is much more nuanced than it had been before.
The best way to tackle the challenges we face is to get much more comfortable in the uncertain, unplanned, and ever-changing. Now is our opportunity to use the challenges we have been presented with to adapt for the better, guided by deep insights from real-world experiences of employees around the world.”
The research identified three key factors influencing people’s ability to adapt to distributed styles of work. These are household complexity, role complexity, and network quality. The complexity or quality of each directly correlates to how people are coping with pandemic working conditions.
Household complexity considers domestic responsibilities and how many people are in their household. Caregivers were less likely (49 percent) to agree that effective working from home was easy than those without children (61 percent). Many people felt unable to bring their best selves to home or work identities, with 60 percent saying it’s more difficult to maintain boundaries between work and personal lives.
Role complexity examines the remote readiness of specific roles. It explores the full spectrum of workflow and social interaction someone depends on to be successful. The research highlighted that the remote work experience can be isolating at times, leaving many yearning for workplace banter. Almost half (49 percent) of Americans echoed this sentiment, noting they missed the energy of working alongside colleagues at the office, compared to only 28 percent who did not.
Network quality focuses on access to personal and professional networks, which contribute to our sense of belonging and support. Three in four (70 percent) Americans felt their company would need to provide better systems and tools to sustain a fully distributed working environment.
What in the World
Globally, the research unearthed fascinating insights into the unique impact of COVID-19 on France, Germany, Japan, and Australia. America’s newfound appreciation of work-life balance is echoed by almost half (44 percent) of our German counterparts, who reported better satisfaction with their work-life balance compared to only 17 percent who felt it had worsened. Additionally, the mass migration to our home offices has seen a considerable 86 percent of Australian workers better appreciate the quality of life outside of their workplace.
Teamwork also continues to thrive in this new distributed environment. Only 13 percent of respondents in Germany felt their teams worked worse together remotely and an impressive 61 percent of French respondents reported a strong feeling of unity and cohesion with their team as a result of the pandemic and proceeding lockdown.
However, the lived experiences of modern workers are not uniform. Only 15 percent of Japanese respondents found working from home easy, with 44 percent suggesting WFH was in fact more difficult. Additionally, 17 percent of Japanese respondents surveyed felt their team worked better together. In Australia, the social yearning for workplace banter shone through, with 77 percent missing the energy they got working alongside colleagues at the office.
“If you’ve ever said your people are your biggest asset, now is the time to act upon that,” says Dom Price, work futurist at Atlassian.
“We’ve heard many positions on the future of distributed work but the reality is that one size won’t fit all situations. This research underscores just how nuanced the future of work is, it’s not about a company going fully remote or hitting some specific flexibility target. These are the voices of real people facing real complexities. There’s no silver bullet for the future of work, but there is now a blueprint.”
The report follows the recent announcement of TEAM Anywhere, an initiative allowing all Atlassian employees to work from wherever they choose. To support the future of work detailed in the research, Atlassian is giving all employees the choice to work from any combination of home, the office, and other locations where they feel productive.
About the research
The Reworking Work: Understanding The Rise of Work Anywhere was commissioned by Atlassian and conducted by Paper Giant, with the support of international research partners. The methodology used a mixed-method approach, combining 32 in-depth remote interviews via Zoom with various workers around the globe, a two-week global diary study of 67 participants as well as a 15-minute quantitative survey of almost 5,200 knowledge workers across five geographies.
Australians made up 11 of the in-depth interviews, 17 of the diary study participants, and 1010 quantitative research respondents. Respondents for all three methodologies were between the ages of 25-64, at a company of 250 employees or more, and had a company tenure of three or more months.
About Atlassian: Atlassian unleashes the potential of every team. Our collaboration software helps teams organize, discuss, and complete shared work. Teams at more than 174,000 customers, across large and small organizations - including General Motors, Walmart Labs, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Lyft, Verizon, Spotify, and NASA - use Atlassian’s project tracking, content creation and sharing, and service management products to work better together and deliver quality results on time. Learn more about products including Jira Software, Confluence, Trello, Bitbucket, Opsgenie, Jira Service Desk, and Jira Align at https://atlassian.com.
About Paper Giant: Paper Giant is a strategic research and design consultancy that helps organizations understand and solve complex problems. Paper Giant specializes in combining qualitative and quantitative research to understand customers and communities and translates that understanding into designs for product, service, and policy. Paper Giant has offices in Melbourne and Canberra and works throughout Australasia. Learn more about their work and services at http://papergiant.net