During the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees were strongly encouraged or required to work from home. What were employee attitudes and experiences towards remote work? New research (Zhang et al., 2021) analyzed over a million Twitter tweets from March to July 2020 to explore how employees felt about remote work.
SENTIMENT ON REMOTE WORK
Results from their exploratory study revealed that overall, the public viewed remote work as mildly positive. Often, positive feelings regarding remote work would peak on Fridays and dip during the weekends (presumably because many of these people were working on the weekends).
Additionally, results from the study indicated that people tweeted both benefits and drawbacks to working remotely. Issues such as mental health and work-life balance were discussed both positively and negatively. In terms of benefits, many regarded working remotely as good for their productivity. Some people also expressed liking the opportunity to engage in remote learning and flexible work. Tweets also mentioned other positive aspects to remote work, such as being able to stay connected with others via technology.
THE DRAWBACKS TO REMOTE WORK
However, some tweets indicated drawbacks to remote work. Some of the drawbacks included feeling drained from hours of teleconferencing, suboptimal home office setups, and poor internet connection. Employees also expressed a need for more team engagement and expressed concern about cybersecurity. Finally, some tweets expressed how challenging it was to work while their children were also learning remotely.
PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS FOR ORGANIZATIONS
The results from this study provide managers with practical steps to improve the experiences of remote workers. First, managers can provide structure for daily work, help employees maintain a healthy work-life balance, and help employees improve their home office experience by providing proper equipment and IT support. Additionally, some remote employees may benefit from family-friendly initiatives such as providing daycare. Finally, as some workers move back into offices and others continue remotely, managers should facilitate team bonding through meetings or by holding events outside of work.
Zhang, C., Yu, M. C., & Marin, S. (2021). Exploring public sentiment on enforced remote work during COVID-19. Journal of Applied Psychology, 106(6), 797–810.