The world changed forever as the first waves of the pandemic hit, and entire organisations pivoted almost overnight to remote work in an effort to keep employees safe. In the beginning, it seemed like an impossible task. How can an entire company work from home? How can we be productive virtually? How long can we sustain this? There were so many questions.
Huge corporations set up drive-through, contactless systems to hand out essential hardware and provision their employees for work-from-home conditions. No one knew how it would work, but eventually, everyone adapted. Now, after nearly two years, people don't want to give it up, according to Nitro's 2022 Productivity Report.
The report builds on findings from an earlier report published in late 2019 and explores how pre-pandemic working habits have evolved over the past 18 months and the trends and technologies shaping work in 2022 and beyond.
The survey was made up of 600 full- and part-time knowledge workers and 140 business leaders across Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany on the top challenges faced during the pandemic, changing workflows and digital needs.
The research shows that while there is some desire to return to the office, most employees want to continue working from home (WFH) in some capacity. According to the report, 46% of knowledge workers plan to work remotely more frequently post-pandemic, and 71% feel extremely or very prepared to WFH long-term.
Working from home offers more flexibility
Working remotely has given employees more flexibility and control over their workdays than ever before. Not having to commute or be in an office helped create a better balance between work and personal schedules.
Many employees are getting up earlier or staying up later to crank out work, so they have more time during the day to spend with family, run errands or take a quick exercise break. According to the report, about 10% of work took place outside the hours of 6:00 am to 6:00 pm in 2019. That number nearly doubled in spring 2020, during the height of the pandemic.
Workers felt less stressed and overall happier
Working from home offered more flexibility, lowered stress levels and improved overall employee happiness. The report found that in 2020, the number of moderately stressed workers dropped by 12%, and job satisfaction increased by 6%. Additionally, those who reported no stress at all rose by 66%.
It's no wonder employees love remote work so much; the benefits are clearly there. Because of the positive impact, many employees expect companies to offer remote work options post-pandemic. 75% of knowledge workers say WFH support is extremely or very important when considering future employment opportunities.
In addition to exploring the benefits of remote work, the report also dives into the evolution of how we work and the importance of having access to the right digital tools. Additional key findings include:
- Remote work paved the way for paperless. In early 2020, global printing declined by 52% , and that trend continued into 2021. Fifty per cent of respondents say they're using physical documents and paper-based processes less since the start of the pandemic.
- Document processes were still inefficient in 2021. 44% of respondents say they have been collaborating on documents more since the start of COVID-19. However, 83% say the way their company handled documents had not improved significantly during the pandemic.
- Digital transformation plans have accelerated. 86% of business leaders say COVID-19 accelerated the need for digital transformation. Plans for digital initiatives are now expected to occur within the next two years.
- IT budgets are increasing. Eight out of 10 business leaders say IT budgets increased between 10% and 14% from 2020, and two in 10 say it increased more than 25%.
- Digital document workflows are more important than ever. More workers today are using an eSignature solution than they were pre-pandemic in 2019, which at the time was only 12%. Nearly half of workers say they would be somewhat or much more productive with either an eSignature or PDF solution.