My mistakes & learnings building two startups, case studies of successful founders, and exciting side projects. Delivered in your inbox each Wednesday.
A lot of you wrote back to me after the previous newsletter issue and I thank you all for the kind words 😀. I will do my best to continue to share genuine stories that might be helpful to you.
Today, however, instead of a personal story, I thought I could cover a question that has been there on all of our minds - how has COVID-19 impacted our lives? On a generic level there are quite a few. But what about our work-life?
I was thinking about this myself a few weeks back. Well, it had already been quite some time into the lockdown. The result of that thought is this dashboard: https://state-of-work-covid19.remote.tools/. Pretty stoked about what we have here. Do take a look!
But let's back up a bit. How did I go about doing this and also what are the insights from the analysis?
To reduce the length of this newsletter, I decided that if you want to know what prompted me to go through this exercise, you can find it here. Don't want you to be unnecessarily overwhelmed by the amount of information coming your way :)
Around the 24th of April, I released the survey and distributed it across various channels. Since almost every individual was a good candidate for the survey, in a little over two weeks 892 people filled the form. The demographics of the participants are as follows:
I would suggest that you open the dashboard and follow the below insights along with it. If you don't have too much time, I would suggest you go through only the bolded points :-). Anyway, without further ado, here is what we observed.
Firstly, what did individuals have to say about themselves:
1) About half were absolute remote amateurs
We had almost an equal-split in the "remote experience" of individuals. While 54% already had some experience of working remotely, 46% were suddenly finding themselves in unchartered territories. This itself highlights the magnitude of challenge faced by the workforce today.
2) An overwhelming number would like a mix of office & remote work in the future
Sure, going to office isn't the happiest thought. However, staying put at home isn't that great either. Two-thirds stated they would like a mix of the two! About 13% said this way of working has not worked for them at all, with only 20% saying that they would like to continue working fully-remote.
3) Productivity has not been severely impacted for most
The biggest question that I had was how people were coping up with work. Surprisingly, only a paltry 14% said that their productivity was lesser than before. A third said that it has more or less been the same and another third shared that it sort of depends on the day (doesn't it always :P).
4) Many are working more hours than before
The picture of remote work being about a person drinking a Pina Colada on a beach is finally being debunked. 32% said that they are consistently working more hours everyday! In comparison only 20% said that they are working for lesser hours than before.
5) Work and personal time just can't be separated OR can they?
A third of the respondents said that the biggest challenge they have faced is being able to separate "work-time" from "personal-time". This is totally a genuine problem and needs a concerted effort to solve. Given that both work and personal time now occur in the same place, a conscious demarcation is needed, otherwise they merge into a continuum.
I found the above results quite interesting. But an individual is just one part of the problem or solution. How did companies react to the sudden change?
1) Two-third companies already had some experience in working remotely
As can be expected, companies already had at least a partial work-from-home set up available for employees. Therefore, they already had exposure to handling some aspects of remote work. However, a third of the companies are going into this blind, with no prior experience of working remotely in any form.
2) Teams have managed to quickly adapt themselves to the new setting
More than half of the respondents agreed that their team and company didn't have any prior experience in working remotely. Yet, they were able to quickly set up practices to work successfully. Just about 17% companies were having problems with the remote work set up. This, while quite surprising, is a very encouraging sign!
3) 50% of companies have changed their remote work policies permanently
In probably the biggest impact for me, ~50% of companies have either started to adopt some aspect of remote working or are further increasing their remote working exposure. This further highlights the fact that remote work might be quite mainstream in a not very distant future.
4) Companies have learnt to be better prepared for such situations
54% of companies have taken a concerted effort to be prepared for any such future situations. Employees have been communicated about the associated measures. Worryingly, 24% of companies have not taken any such measures. This is surely the time to analyse and make systemic changes in the company 😕
Our lives have been significantly impacted. I do imagine our personal lives to revert to "normalcy" in a few years. As individuals, we have short memories and are also more flexible to change. However, the way we work has been influenced in some permanent ways. These changes are here to stay.
What are your thoughts on this? How do you imagine the "future of work" now? Has your answer changed over the past few months? Do let me know.