Employees who don’t have the resources they need right now are 3X more likely to be dissatisfied and 2X more likely to plan on quitting
By Ryan Smith, Co-Founder and CEO, Qualtrics
The COVID-19 crisis is taking a huge toll on employee wellbeing, productivity, and, most importantly, mental health. Since the beginning of the pandemic, over one third of workers reported a steep decline in their mental health. That’s why it’s so important to ask if your team is okay. Then you need to make sure they have what they need. The data is showing that newly remote employees need three things: a dedicated work space, technology, and a shared definition of what success looks like.
A Dedicated Workspace
Everyone’s situation is different, but regardless of whether someone had a home office, was working out of their bedroom, or juggling different spots for homeschooling kids or a working spouse, this is – hands down – the highest-rated need.
I’m working from a closet in my house because it’s the quietest place with the fewest distractions. One of our team members set up a workspace in his van which is parked close to the house to pick up the wifi. I’ve seen dozens of setups over video calls in the past few weeks. Whatever your specific situation, it’s powerful to have a consistent, dedicated space for work—even if it’s just a corner with a monitor and a chair.
Employees can’t be productive if they aren’t set up right. Some people just need a laptop. Others need a specialized setup with complex tools. Every job and industry is different. When we asked everyone to start working from home, we told them to take whatever they needed from the office to get them set up in their home. People took monitors, keyboards, desk chairs … some even took their desks.
Many companies are struggling here. Less than half (46%) of newly remote workers said their company had provided all the tools they needed. The biggest experience gaps came in the need for external monitors, better video conferencing software, and access to a company VPN for remote access to company-specific technology. Nearly 10% of people said they didn’t even have a company-issued computer to use while working remotely. For employees to operate in this new environment, companies have to ensure they have the resources they need.
Definition of What Success Looks Like
With all the disruption happening in people’s personal and professional lives, it has never been more important to define what success looks like. One in three newly remote workers says they don’t have a clear understanding of what is expected of them—and it’s leading to more anxiety, stress, and feelings of social isolation. In fact, people who don’t have clear expectations for what they need to do at work are 51% more likely to feel less productive, while those who do know what success looks like are more than twice as likely to report a decrease in anxiety since they began working from home.
People are used to getting constant input in the workplace about what they should and shouldn’t be doing. Some of it comes as direct instructions, but many company cultures also rely on day-to-day interactions and casual requests to create clarity. If people feel like they are off on an island or aren’t sure if they are rowing in the right direction, that impacts their productivity and wellbeing.
This is what the data is showing generally, and it’s helpful. But have you asked your team members if they have what they need? We all work in different contexts, so how do you know the specific needs of your team? Ask them! In this fluid environment, a constant employee pulse is mandatory. We are seeing different needs based on regions, roles, industry, etc.
There’s risk in not knowing exactly what your teams need. Employees who don’t have the resources they need are three times more likely to be dissatisfied. Even more alarming, those who don’t have the resources they need to work remotely are twice as likely to say they’ll quit once the crisis passes.
So whether you lead an entire organization or a team of two, you have to ask so that you know exactly what people need. At Qualtrics, we use Remote Work Pulse to keep daily and weekly tabs on how our employees are doing. We’ve made it free for all organizations to do the same.