Remote Workers Feel Strains in Culture, See Better Work-Life Balance

Remote Work Dad

Most Americans believe the quality of their work has improved since the Covid-19 pandemic began, and more than two-thirds say their work-life balance is in a better place than it was before.   

Specifically, 79% of employees say their quality of work is better than it was four months ago, according to a KPMG pulse survey. Seventy percent say their productivity has increased and 67% indicate work-life balance has improved. All of the respondents worked at organizations with more than 1,000 employees.

Employees say work-life balance is better since pandemic began, but company culture is under pressure. @KPMG #HR #HRTech Click To Tweet

While other reports have revealed remote workers surprised employers with their efficiency and productivity, they’ve also described challenges involved with managing teams working from home. For example, the ratings firm Clutch found many workers believe corporate culture has suffered during the pandemic, even though videoconferencing has gained traction as a collaboration and communications tool.

KPMG found that most employers—91%—have provided workers with the technology necessary to do their jobs. More than three-quarters of workers said their company makes them feel valued. As many want to remain with their current employer, though it’s not clear whether that sentiment’s driven by their organization’s actions or the state of the job market.

Remote Work Tensions

There are signs of wear, however: About a third of workers, 34%, say their relationships with colleagues have taken a turn for the worse. Some 35% said the same thing about their team’s ability to collaborate. And even though many reported better experiences, 41% say their happiness at work has slipped and 35% believe culture has worsened.

Interestingly, on-site workers are feeling more pressure than those at home. Given the fears surrounding Covid-19’s ability to spread in enclosed spaces—such as factories, offices, buses and subway systems—that’s not surprising. More on-site workers say the demands of their jobs have increased—83% versus 74% for remote employees. And more than half said their mental health has been pressured (54%), compared to 45% of remote workers.

Both employers and HR tech vendors believe the shift to remote work will an important factor in long-term changes to how work gets done.

CEOs Worry About Talent Risk

Separately, enterprise CEOs told KPMG that talent risk is one of the most significant challenges they face right now.

The firm conducted two international surveys of CEOs, one during the first quarter and the second in early August, “to understand how CEO thinking has evolved during the crisis.” All of the executives led companies with over $500 million in annual revenue.

The resulting CEO Outlook found that the executives’ agenda shifted dramatically since the beginning of the year. For example, areas such as environmental, social and governance concerns have gained traction.

“This crisis has accelerated strategies that were already in place around digital transformation and social responsibility,” said KPMG CEO Bill Thomas. “However, in other areas planning for the future is a lot harder, particularly thinking about future ways of working and problem solving.”  

In January, CEOs ranked talent risk behind 11 other challenges to growth, KPMG said. Since the beginning of the pandemic, however, it’s become the most significant threat to business, even ahead of supply chain and environmental risk.

CEOs have invested heavily in technology this year and are betting elements of digital transformation will make their companies more resilient, agile and customer-focused. A majority, 80%, said digital transformation has accelerated during the pandemic. About two-thirds, 67%, say they’re likely to put more capital into technology than they are people.

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