A word from the experts

Home office, an organizational success?

January 2021

Expert

Marc Bertier

Marc Bertier

Workplace Strategist

+33 52 65 25 99

mbertier@kardham.com

Kardham conducted a survey to capture the experience of working remotely during and after lockdown. The objective was to measure the feelings of employees to understand how this experience upset their work environment, in an organizational and spatial sense. More than 3000 employees belonging to 8 organizations from different sectors have therefore assessed 65 criteria which cover all the dimensions of the work environment: daily management, performance at work, relations with others and with the company, management and information sharing.

The questionnaire also included an exploratory part to understand projections on the future of employees. In addition to the overall results and the most influential variables, the procurement method by organization allows for a comparative approach. What are the differences between companies where employees have been assessed as performing better during this distance work experience and others? What can we learn from?

For a large majority of respondents, the experience of home office during lockdown was good, despite the fact that 75% of the sample never or rarely worked from home before. The daily rhythm was well managed (78% of respondents managed their schedules better during the day than at the office) and the work environment at home was judged to be satisfactory (75% of respondents felt that they had had a adapted work). This period of forced remote work was an opportunity to improve professional practices for 72% of respondents. Similarly, 76% said they had more autonomy and 77% said they were better organized. The operational teams performed rather well (86% responded that they were no less united, 88.5% that they were no less efficient); in a context where relationships with others were good (78% said they felt kindness in others). The commitment was also maintained (81.2% of respondents did not feel less integrated with the company, 75% felt the support of management). For managers and employees, the managerial relationship had not deteriorated (86% and 88% respectively). Similarly, 81% felt that they had no difficulty communicating with their colleagues and 77% felt that the meetings were no less effective. At the end of this experience, 78% said they did not aspire to keep their habits. In particular, they wanted to do more home office (71%), have more freedom than before confinement in the management of their time (82%) and that more time be dedicated to individual management (65%). Finally, an in-depth analysis of the results highlights some influential variables: gender, management and parenthood.

The experience was considered good overall, but a few results attract attention, especially in the "Management and sharing of information" section. While 35% of managers felt they had to justify their work more (compared to 25% of employees), only 29% of managers said that work control had increased (compared to 36% of employees). These gaps reflect the tension experienced by the managerial body, which had to review its ways of working and it is even more on the front line for the day-to-day management of teams during confinement and after confinement. Two other figures, relating to information sharing, also deserve attention: 52% of respondents say they spent more time sharing information and 60% said they interacted less with other teams.
Exclusive, then intensive, remote work has revolutionized modes of communication and reduced cross-functional exchanges. A second wave of responding companies will confirm or not these results. This will make it possible to know whether these two trends are in reaction to the health crisis and the necessary reorganization in the face of the unprecedented work context or if, as other studies on home office suggest, a fundamental issue for an increased development of working from home. Finally, this general presentation of the results should be closed with a warning: if the results are generally good, between 20 and 25% of respondents declare having had a degraded work experience for each item. We must therefore think about improving remote work for 1 in 4 employees.

The procurement method by organization allows the results to be compared. For each organization, each criterion could be evaluated by an overall score. These scores are ranked in order to define the organizations having obtained the best scores (grouped together in group 1) and those having obtained the worst (constituting group 2). First observation: group 1 is mainly made up of organizations for which the questionnaire was administered between May and July (post-lockdown) while the responses of group 2 were mainly collected between April and June (lockdown). Once these groups have been formed, it is possible to compare the means of the two groups criterion by criterion to establish the characteristics of the organizations having the best overall score as those of the organizations having obtained the worst. The organizations in group 1 obtained higher averages than those in group 2 on 52 criteria. Those in group 2 had higher averages than those in group 1 on 13 criteria.

Ten criteria - among the most significant - make it possible to understand how the results of group 1 were superior to those of group 2. Respondents in this group felt much more that they were not less productive (+ 9%). They also felt that they had better collaborative situations, whether within the operational team or with other teams (no impossibility of helping their team + 9%, no less exchange with other teams + 9%). Respondents in this group more strongly felt that they had neither lacked professional motivation (+ 9%). They also tend to judge that they were better organized in their work (+ 12%), that they did not experience an increase in professional interruptions (+ 7%) and that they benefited from a suitable concentration (+ 9%). Finally, while they felt they performed better, respondents in group 1 were also more satisfied with their quality of life at work during the period. They were 10% more to consider having benefited from good working conditions, 9% to have better managed their schedules during the day and break and 10% to have better managed their sleeping schedules.


In cases where the results for group 2 were better than those for group 1, the differences in results were not as great. Respondents in group 2 were more inclined to judge that they had to justify more of their work (+ 2.1%), that they did not have more time to ask (+ 5%) while estimating more that they will change their ways of working (+ 10%). They also responded that they felt more kindness in others (+ 6%), that they were more anxious to meet their colleagues (+ 4%) and to go to the office more often (+ 1%). Respondents in group 2 also stated that they had not had more workload (+ 9%) and their managers felt more that they had not experienced an increase in control of their work (+ 4%). These respondents claimed to have been better supported by their management (+ 5%) and not to have felt any pressure from them (+ 5%). However, they were more likely to believe that the relationship would change after this experience (+ 13%).

The results obtained by organizations in group 1 show social bodies functioning better than those in group 2. For example, only 66% of respondents in group 1 declared that they did not interact less with other teams, against 57% of respondents in group 2 (average 61%). Likewise, the increase in the time devoted to the exchange of information was judged more important by the latter than by the former (59% of respondents in group 1, 48% in group 2; 52% on average). In other words, the resumption of work in co-presence would have facilitated the resumption of exchanges between the teams and made the exchange of information more fluid and it would be possible that these variations can be explained by a beginning of return to the office (a second wave of study will verify or not the hypothesis). This hypothesis would explain other differences between the variables, such as the fact that the respondents in group 2 were more anxious to find their colleagues than those in group 1. Finally, the differences in responses could also be explained by the level of activity. organizations at the time of the responses: reading all the data could also show that the organizations in group 2 are those that experienced a greater slowdown in activity when it was administered at the height of the health crisis (indicators workload, solicitation time, support and pressure from management for example).


The comparison of the most significant differences between the two groups nevertheless qualifies one of the fears most commonly associated with home office : even with remote work, it is possible to maintain interactions between the teams and not to considerably increase the number of people working from home. time spent exchanging information (for 34% and 41% of respondents from group 1 organizations, respectively). The balance between face-to-face time and remote time could be a lever to promote it. The second wave of the investigation will confirm whether or not this improvement was made possible by the return to the office. Finally, these first results confirm a certain number of elements already known: home office contributes to a better organization of work, to a better concentration while facilitating the management of the balance between professional and private life.

Marc Bertier

 

For more information on the R&D survey conducted by Kardham and / or to participate in the second wave of the survey: ncochard@kardham.com

Release date : Mardi 5 Janvier 2021

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