How COVID-19 Has Shifted Workplace Policies: Guidance for 2022
As COVID-19 disrupted entire swaths of the global economy throughout the entirety of 2020 and most of 2021, businesses were forced to adapt and respond to quarantines and other protective measures that drastically disrupted their ability to operate day-to-day. While initial responses were reactive and helped businesses in the short-term, longer-term solutions started to emerge in 2021 as businesses realized that they couldn’t ignore or wait out the challenges arising in managing their workforces as the pandemic drug on. The fact that treatments and mitigation measures emerged and evolved over the course of the year, culminating in FDA approval of a COVID-19 vaccine in 2021, has helped employers to guide and inspire new COVID-19 related human resource related policies to protect themselves and their workforce.
In order to explore these changes in HR, UpCity worked in conjunction with Pollfish to survey 600 business owner and employee respondents across the United States and Canada. With this survey, we explored worker inclination to work remotely, in-person, or hybrid in the wake of the coronavirus, and where employees live relative to where they work. We also gathered insight into the tools being used for communication in hybrid or remote work arrangements, what sort of companies job seekers are looking for, and how policies have shifted in response to the ebb and flow of COVID-19 outbreaks. We’ve broken down our findings to address the following aspects:
- Workplace Settings
- Geographic regions
- Industry results
- Team Communication
- Job Search
- Workplace Policies
To support the statistical feedback from our 600 respondents, we’ve also queried the HR community directly to find out what the experts are seeing in the field. They’ve provided insight into how the pandemic has impacted policies, work environments, and procedures in their own companies as well as those of their clients.
39% of Professionals Say That They’d Rather Work in a Hybrid Environment Post-COVID-19
As the numbers show above, the number of workers working remotely skyrocketed in the wake of COVID-19 quarantines. Even after a year of working in either a forced work-from-home arrangement or a hybrid model, respondents in our survey show that a significant percentage of workers would prefer to continue working in a hybrid model even as more businesses give the option for their workforces to return fully to the office. This gives them the flexibility of connecting with management and their teams as needed, but also maintaining the benefits of working remotely as needed.
• 39% – I prefer working in a hybrid environment (half remote, half in-person)
• 32% – I work from home and I prefer it
• 15% – I work in person and I prefer it
• 8% – I work in person but I’d rather work from home
• 6% – I work from home but I’d rather work in person
Word from the B2B and B2C communities at large supports much of our findings from this inquiry, with many respondents lauding the benefits of the hybrid and remote models to both employees and businesses.
“Yes, we love working fully remote. We started as an in-office business but we switched to remote working after a year. We initially wanted to test out this and gave people the option of coming to the office and after a while, nobody was coming. We realized that a vast majority of our employees thrived in a remote setting since there weren’t as many distractions as in the office, they didn’t lose time commuting and were able to save more money. As for the business – we were able to stay competitive in today’s labor market where remote arrangements are highly desirable, retain employees, and decrease costs on renting the office space. We were also able to hire people that weren’t in our main county that fit our needs perfectly and that we wouldn’t be able to hire otherwise.”
—Emma Miles, Content Writer, Pawsome Advice
“I set up Rockstar Marketing so that I would always be fully remote, as long as I wanted to be. This was before the pandemic even started. When I initially started working remotely, I would work from home. This soon got lonely. Instead, I now work from co-working spaces. I’m not there all the time, and sometimes prefer to be at home. But it’s a great way to get out and meet people, especially when you arrive in a new place. This way, you feel like you have colleagues but can also step away if need be.”
—Ravi Davda, CEO, Rockstar Marketing
Remote work continues to gain traction and popularity with workers in the wake of COVID-19, but businesses still seek to fold in as much return to normal operating procedures for staff as they can. This has led to hybrid work models being introduced and embraced as the best solution for all in multiple industries where such work arrangements are possible.
81% of Respondents are Required to Wear a Mask in Their Company’s Office
Shifting gears, we asked respondents whether their organizations were requiring masks to be worn in the office, and found that at the time of being questioned a large proportion of respondents were either required to or chose to do so, with only 3% neither required to nor choosing to wear a mask in the office. This tendency towards masks will evolve and shift over time as guidance from regulatory agencies changes in response to the shifting infection rates of the various COVID-19 variants driving current policies.
• 81% – I’m required to wear a mask at all times in the office
• 13% – I’m not required to wear a mask but I choose to wear one most of the time in the office
• 3% – I’m not required to wear a mask and I normally don’t wear one in the office
We wanted to see if this tendency towards masks held up across businesses in a general sense, and brought this inquiry to the community at large, as well as asking whether they were required to show proof of vaccination to return to work in the workplace.
“As a small business owner, work safety is one of my priorities. Currently, our company has implemented a hybrid work setup. Employees come to the physical office twice a week.
Office disinfection, getting a nurse and having a clinic, weekly provision of alcohol, and facemasks per employee are a few of the safety requirements here in our company. We require everyone to wear a facemask whenever we are in a small enclosed space, but they can take off their masks if they are alone. As for the vaccination proof, we already have a database where we have all the details of our employees’ vaccinations and health status, so our employees do not need to show proof of their vaccination status every time they come to the office.”
—Ava Hathaway, Founder & Owner, Dashboard Beauty
“The office safety requirements at our workplace now include mandatory vaccination requirements, face coverings, physical distancing of four feet at all times, decreased capacity in shared spaces such as elevators, and distanced seating in the office. We aren’t required to wear masks at our desks, cubicles, or in our offices. But we have to wear one when talking to someone, in a meeting or when we visit another department or someone else’s office. All employees have to show proof of vaccination. Those that don’t are put on probationary WFH for a week and there are penalties if they can’t show proof after that.”
—Dave Ericksen, CEO, Waterzen
“Each employee had to submit their vaccination certificate to HR before coming to the office. WHO COVID-19 precautionary practices were followed. Hand sanitizers were placed at the entry and exit points of the building. And a guard checked the temperature of everyone entering the office premises. Masks were provided to anyone who hadn’t worn one. Moreover, social distancing was practiced by staff, employees, and employers in public spaces.”
—Ryan Nieman, CEO, Solitaire
83% of Respondents are Required to Have a Vaccine Card in Their Company’s Office
Seeing a trend across industries towards businesses requiring proof of vaccination, we were not surprised to see the same trend in the responses to our survey. In fact, with the FDA having approved vaccinations and boosters, it’s given most businesses the necessary precedent to legally require proof of vaccination to return to work that only 17% of the businesses who responded to our inquiry do not require a vaccine card to work in the office under hybrid models.
For businesses that have adopted hybrid models, employees and employers alike are still intent on maintaining safety for employees. With the backing of regulatory agencies, businesses are taking precautions by implementing legally-backed mandates requiring masks to be worn when working in enclosed office spaces and for employees returning to the office to show proof of vaccination.
50% of U.S. Respondents Work in a Hybrid Environment Post-COVID-19
As safety became more important than productivity throughout the initial phases of the pandemic, businesses were guided by OSHA, the CDC, and other institutions to implement safety guidelines that included the ability to work remotely. As quarantines eased and eventually all but ended with the exception of isolation imposed on workers with confirmed cases, concerns continued to play into employee decisions on whether to return to working in the office full-time. Through our questionnaire, we found that more than half of our respondents in the Northeast, South, and West continue to work in hybrid work arrangements, with employees in the Midwest preferring to work in person in their offices by a slim margin.
• 60% Hybrid
• 54% hybrid
• 52% physical office
• 57% hybrid
83% of U.S. Respondents Live in the Same State as the Company They Work For
While the ability to work remotely became an option in my industries and disciplines, it didn’t break down geographic barriers to remote work options as many thought it might. Across the United States, 83% of our respondents work in the same state as where they reside, with only 7% living in another state than that where they work. With the uncertainty of how long the health crisis resulting from the pandemic will continue to impact the workforce, businesses and employees are instead focusing more on hybrid arrangements, with the understanding that keeping employees close to the workplace now will make a transition back to traditional working arrangements easier if and when that might occur.
• 83% – Reside in the same U.S. state as the company
• 8% – Reside in Canada (See Canada data below)
• 7% – Reside in a different U.S. state than the company
• 2% – Other
50% of Canadian Respondents Also Work in a Hybrid Environment Post-COVID-19
Canadian companies generally hold the same regard for hybrid work arrangements as their American counterparts, according to our respondents. However, feedback from Canadian businesses sourced largely from Central and West Coast regions, with outlying areas showing a similar preference for employees working from the office that we saw in the U.S. Midwest.
• 74% Physical office
• 59% Hybrid
• 56% Physical office
• 91% Physical office
• 56% Hybrid
92% of Canadian Respondents Live in the Same Region as the Company They Work For
Here again, Canadian respondents seem to mimic those of American sentiments in their desire to work in the same region as where they live. Only 8% of our Canadian demographic stated that they were working for a company in a region different from that where they reside.
• 92% – Reside in the same region as the company
• 8% – Reside in a different region than the company
• 0% – Other
Industry Breakdown of Respondents
In the following chart, we break down our respondents by a number of attributes that help us determine how working habits have changed and what policies have been implemented by businesses according to their business profiles. The composition metrics we’ll cover include:
- Respondent Title or Role
- Industry type
- Business Profile – Number of Employees, Years in Business, Total annual revenue
- Changes in the Workplace
While our inquiry largely relates to HR matters and policy, 76% of respondents were business owners or C-level executives. Only 8% who provided feedback claim a role related to HR management. About two-thirds of our respondents work for B2B service providers. Interestingly, the majority of respondents come from well-established businesses that have operated in excess of 10 years and have annual revenue streams in excess of $10 million.
• 65% – Business Owners
• 11% – C-Level Executives
• 10% – Middle Management
• 8% – HR Managers
• 7% – Senior Management
• 6% – Director
• 3% – Administrative/Clerical
• 67% – B2B
• 33% – B2C
• 38% – have been in business for 10+ years
• 26% – $10M+ annual revenue
Our field of respondents are clustered largely in the Education, Finance, Insurance, and Technology (Information Services and Software), with other industries represented fairly equally in small segments, giving us relatively decent insight across a wide spectrum of businesses into the work policy changes that have been put into place in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
• 15% – Education
• 12% – Finance & Insurance
• 10% – Healthcare
• 9% – Information Services
• 4% – Manufacturing
• 4% – Other
• 4% – Software
• 4% – Construction
• 3% – Retail
• 3% – Scientific or Technical Services
• 2% – Marketing & Sales
|Business size||Years in Business||Annual Revenue|
|101-500 employees||34% 3-5 years in business||27% $3M – $5M annual revenue|
|501-1,000 employees||35% 10+ years in business||28% $6M – $9M annual revenue|
|1,001-5,000 employees||38% 10+ years in business||39% $10M+ annual revenue|
|5,001+ employees||63% 10+ years in business||53% $10M+ annual revenue|
The breakdown in respondents is spread across small businesses with varying staff sizes, but the majority of the study’s responses come from businesses with between 1,000 and 5,000 employees with annual revenues of more than $10 million. Additional information came from a fairly even spread of smaller organizations with a range of annual revenues from as little as $500,000 to $9 million.
Changes in the Workplace and Improvements to the Employee Experience
47% of Business Owners and Employees Have Been Working Remotely for 1-5 years
There was a growing dialogue pre-COVID across industries about how the future of work and how technology solutions and growing workloads made a strong argument for remote working arrangements. This dialogue evolved into a growing demand by employees for the ability to work from home or more flexible work arrangements. Despite the increasingly vocal demands, many organizations refused to implement remote work, claiming concerns about reduced productivity and difficulty in maintaining the corporate culture. This is reflected in the fairly low percentages of respondents who have been working remotely for longer than 6-9 years.
However, in the wake of the pandemic, owners realized there was a need to maintain business continuity and remain productive despite lockdowns and quarantines. There was also an increasing need to support massive business model pivots as organizations sought to embrace eCommerce models and other methods of responding to changes in consumer behaviors. With employees either forced to remain home or choosing to work outside of the office due to safety concerns where quarantines hadn’t been fully imposed, the spike in remote work arrangements in the last 1-5 years according to our respondents makes sense. Employers have been forced to allow for work-from-home, remote arrangements, or hybrid work models in order to keep the doors open and meet the needs of their clients.
• 47% – 1-5 years
• 22% – less than 1 year
• 19% – 6-9 years
• 12% – 10+ years
To get a more complete read on this shift to remote work arrangements, we posed the business community at large with the question of if and how long they’d been working remotely, and if their outlook had changed on remote work since the start of the pandemic.
“We began working remotely last year in March 2020, when the pandemic began. My outlook on remote work for some time has been that it’s a more efficient, humane, and modern way of conducting business for organizations that can be meaningfully organized this way. The pandemic allowed me, along with much of the United States, to test that thesis successfully. That said, remote work arrangements only work if systems are in place to ensure accountability towards accomplishing organizational, departmental, and individual goals. In the case of my team, there is near-universal agreement that it’s a more proficient and productive way to work, and people are happier. A win-win in my book.”
—Daniel Koffler, Founder & President, New Frontiers Executive Function Coaching
“I’ve been working remotely mostly from home for the past 3.5 years, which was before the pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, I would visit clients in their office and teach classes at a Real Estate school in person. I tried to make all my appointments on the same day so I could have 2 days exclusively working from home. It helped to save on gas money and time overall. I no longer visit clients in person but not only because of the pandemic but because I moved to another state. I do more zoom and phone calls since the move almost a year ago. I like it better because I feel I am more productive. There is less chit-chat, traffic stops, and traffic to deal with and I spend less time waiting on clients onsite to prepare for pre-scheduled meetings. I had worked hybrid for years as laptops made it easier to do all the work one could do in an office without the office politics.”
—Lisa Sicard, Content Marketing and Social Media Specialist, Inspire to Thrive
“I have been working remotely for the last six months. My outlook on remote work has drastically changed since the pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, I had only worked remotely on a couple of occasions, and I believed that it was not possible to work from home effectively. Now, having worked remotely for half a year, my point of view is totally different. In the age of technology, it doesn’t matter where you are working from, as long as you get the work done.”
—Jessica Kats, eCommerce & Retail Expert, Soxy
Most Respondents Noted That Spending More Time With Loved Ones Has Been the Biggest Benefit of Working Remotely
Despite the business reasons for the increase in working remotely, the benefits to employee quality of life have been significant. We posed respondents with the query of what they considered to be the top benefit of working remotely. A majority came back with the fact that they got to spend more time with loved ones, with health and the ability to reduce expenses close follow-ups in the list of benefits the changing work arrangements have brought. The fact that a larger talent pool free from the constraints of geography being the least important benefit to respondents mirrors other data we discussed above showing a majority of workers have chosen to work for a company in the same state where they live.
(On a scale of 1-6, 1 being the best benefit)
More time to spend with loved ones
Save money and time on commuting
More time to focus on health
Customized work setup
More autonomy and fewer office interruptions
Larger talent pool/more career options not based on geography
The benefits of remote work have been widely discussed in a number of channels, and we wanted to get more insight from businesses themselves. Asking the general B2B and B2C populations about the top benefits of remote work, we received some interesting insight into what workers and owners are prioritizing.
“At the end of the day, remote work remains a benefit that many people appreciate. Allowing employees to work remotely allows them to achieve a reasonable work-life balance and relieves some of the stress that comes with working in a fast-paced environment. Employees develop a sense of trust and respect for a company that allows them to work from home or trusts them to work remotely. Employees show their autonomy in a variety of ways, including confidence in their work and a willingness to do more when asked.”
—David Wurst, Owner & CEO, Webcitz
“The primary advantage, in my opinion, is that remote workers aren’t distracted by and are generally immune to the effects of office politics. Because of the remote nature of their profession, they have an advantage over office workers who may find it difficult to concentrate owing to office gossip and power struggles.”
—Hassan Usmani, Tech Expert, YEELIGHT
“Because employees may typically arrange their schedules around personal commitments, remote employment makes it simpler to establish a healthy work-life balance. Juggling work and family duties can be easier when you work from home, and it also gives you more time to decompress throughout the day, allowing you to be more productive.”
—Daniel Carter, SEO Manager, LUCAS Products & Services
A Majority of Respondents Say That At-Home Distractions is the Biggest Challenges of Working Remotely
Prior to the pandemic, the dialogues for shifting to work-from-home or remote work arrangements were largely voluntary and planned out in advance, giving employees the opportunity to create or discover work-friendly spaces ahead of time. As mass quarantines forced wide portions of the workforce to abandon office spaces and find ways to work remotely in order to maintain business continuity, employees found themselves having to carve out space in their homes or find locations to work not entirely suited to remaining uninterrupted throughout the workday. It’s no surprise, then, that when we asked respondents for the biggest challenges of working remotely that at-home distractions topped the list. It’s interesting that the other top answers support arguments against remote work pre-pandemic, with professionals citing difficulty in building culture and difficulty in managing employees as significant challenges.
(On a scale of 1-7, 1 being the most challenging)
Difficulty building team culture
More challenging to manage employees
Feeling more isolated
Feeling less motivated
Harder to manage time and meet deadlines
Difficulty scheduling meetings
To gain more insight into the challenges of working remotely, we looped in more businesses on this inquiry to find out what they’ve been struggling with since the pandemic forced the remote work model on a large portion of the workforce.
“Any firm needs consistency, and it has nothing to do with where your employees are located. It’s all about how you onboard new team members, create a positive company culture, and link each employee’s function to the firm’s objectives. Because your team is walking advertising for your company, they must grasp its vision, goals, and brand. The most difficult task for remote teams is maintaining consistency. Create an effective employee onboarding and training program to ensure that everyone is on the same page and understands how to communicate with others both inside and outside the organization. Include everyone in meetings about business objectives so that everyone knows how their work fits into the firm and how they can assist drive the plan. Add logos, style guidelines, letterheads, and any other templates the team might need to cloud storage for easy access by all team members.”
—Lauren Cook-McKay, Director of Marketing & Content, Divorce Answers
“Many people believe that working remotely allows you to fit more personal activities into your day, but I have found the opposite is true. Working remotely actually allows your work life to seep into your personal life more. I find myself working all the time. It is hard to have a clear time when you end your workday as the lines between your business life and personal life blur.”
—Amber Lee, CEO & Certified Matchmaker, Select Date Society
“Without a doubt, the biggest challenge is being disciplined enough to know when to end your workday. There is always the temptation to answer after-hours texts, emails, and calls. I think with so many working remotely now, some people have forgotten boundaries. Other challenges include checking out while on vacation (that’s always difficult as a business owner) and time zone differences when taking a working vacation.”
—Hilary Reiter, Principal, Redhead Marketing & PR
The challenges of working from home revolve not only around at-home distractions but both management and motivation-focused challenges as well. It’s important as at-home work arrangements continue to evolve and hybrid models become increasingly popular, that employees working outside of the office come up with ways to mitigate the worst challenges.
For employees having difficulty scheduling meetings and feeling challenged about overall time management with projects, having solid tools in place to automate scheduling and project management are crucial to remaining productive.
Isolation and Motivation
Isolation and motivation tend to be cited as challenges as well, and it’s crucial that employees working from home maintain some semblance of socialization and interaction, whether it’s with coworkers, families, or friends.
Team Management and Company Culture
For leadership struggling to manage their teams and maintain company culture, using the right tools to communicate and maintain project workflows is vital for the ongoing stability of the team. Keeping an open door policy even when working from home and high availability throughout the workday for your team to reach out and maintain contact also goes a long way to stabilizing these feelings.
58% of Remote Professionals are Open to Working In-Person
Of the respondents who are working remotely due to choice or policy, it’s important to note that though a majority are open to returning to working in person, 42% are still not willing or would not feel comfortable working in the office. Despite the challenges, respondents are finding more value in the benefits and opportunities working remotely has given them.
20% of Teams Use Zoom As Their Primary Communication Tool
From policy to methods, we shifted our focus in our inquiry to how businesses maintained channels of communication with remote and in-office workforces. At the front end of the pandemic, communication tools became increasingly sought after, and out of the pack of available software solutions, Zoom rose to the top by positioning itself in line with the social distancing messaging. Aside from Zoom, Skype, Gmail, and Microsoft Teams round out the leading communications tools with our respondents.
• 20% – Zoom
• 14% – Skype
• 13% – Gmail
• 13% – Microsoft Teams
• 9% – Google Hangouts
• 7% – GoToMeeting
• 6% – Slack
• 5% – Trello
• 5% – Asana
• 4% – Dialpad
• 4% – Toggl
• 1% – Other
Seeing Zoom and the other three leading software platforms listed by our respondents, we wanted to see if the same trend held up across the B2B and B2C service providers landscape. Are the same tools being widely used, and are these tools being used more now versus at the height of the pandemic?
“My favorite tool for communicating with my team is Hiver. Hiver is a collaboration and customer support application that adds several functions to Gmail. Its core feature is its shared inboxes, which let several team members use the same email address at once without any confusion. It allows us to assign Gmail threads to each other, leave notes for each other, and mark threads as closed or open. I prefer it to other tools for a few reasons. First, it overlays conveniently on top of Gmail, a tool that a large portion of people already use, so my team and I don’t have to learn and use a different software platform. It’s very easy to get new employees up to speed on it. It’s also easy to install because it’s just a Google Chrome extension and you log in with your Gmail account. I also like that it doesn’t have addictive qualities the way Slack and other collaboration tools do. It’s important to me that people at my firm see this firm as a job, secondary to the rest of their life.”
—Jeremy Green Eche, Founder & Managing Attorney, JPG Legal
“My favorite tool for communicating with my team throughout the workday is the Telegram messaging app. I message my team via Telegram up to four or five times a day to communicate updates and ask and answer questions. Since Telegram is an instant messaging app, it allows me to send media files, find past conversations, and receive notifications more quickly than other platforms such as e-mail. Telegram also has a useful feature that allows you to record and send a voice message by simply pressing, holding, and releasing a button. I use this feature when trying to communicate a message that I can explain better verbally than in writing. With Telegram, you can easily tell which of your contacts are online and when they were last active. This information is particularly useful to know when working remotely so that you can determine when might be the best time to message people who are located in a different time zone. Telegram has been a key part of my workflow, and I would recommend it to anyone who’s looking for an instant messaging app that’s user-friendly and convenient for the workplace.”
—Therese Schachner, Cyber Security Consultant, VPNBrains.com
“Our favorite tool is Discord. Although it was originally designed for gamers, Discord has proven to be very reliable in the business setting as well. I like that we can chat, organize projects and have video calls in the same tool. The interface is very intuitive and provides us with a lot of features such as assigning people roles, managing channels, and having high-quality video calls. Plus Discord is completely free to use which is another major convenience. These are all the reasons why we chose it over all other platforms. Since we started working remotely, we’ve been using Discord on a daily basis for all interactions.”
—Nick Chernets, CEO, Data for SEO
In order to improve team communications across teams that are not colocated, it’s important to use lightweight and easy to manage, yet secure tools that can be used across home networks and still robust enough to manage complex business communications. It’s also necessary to maintain and keep to established meeting schedules, but also give employees the tools they need to quickly schedule meetings and collaborate as necessary. Paired with CRM and project management platforms, effective communications tools can keep a team focused and on track relative to the business’s goals, regardless of the locations from which the team members are working.
43% of Business Owners and Employees Attend Team Zoom Calls Every Day
With the increasing need to improve remote communications across decentralized, remote teams, businesses are holding Zoom calls at an increasing pace. According to our respondents, a majority of teams are attending Zoom calls with their own teams or with clients and contacts on a daily basis. For those not attending daily meetings, 39% are still attending upwards of four video meetings a week.
• 43% – Every day
• 39% – 3-4 times a week
• 14% – 1-2 times a week
• 4% – I don’t attend team calls
With video calls and meetings an almost daily occurrence for most employees and business leaders, standards and etiquette have emerged around video conferencing that inform attendees on mistakes to avoid when hosting or attending a meeting.
- As with in-person meetings, only schedule a Zoom meeting when necessary. And as with in-person meetings, treat a video meeting as professionally as you would any other engagement with peers, managers, and clients.
- In order to properly utilize Zoom meetings as a proxy for in-person meetings, ensure you’re remaining engaged by leaving your video feed on and properly utilizing mute for effective and interactive engagement.
- Don’t monopolize the feed if a meeting is meant to be interactive; allow others to contribute to the conversation.
- Stay engaged with the live feed and don’t do other work on your screen.
- Properly format your meeting to ensure it remains secure and uninterrupted.
71% of Professionals Feel That The Transition to Work In-Person Again Will Be More Challenging Due to an Increased Amount of Virtual Meetings
Zoom calls have become extremely disruptive factors in the modern workplace, in that they have supplanted most other forms of communication. Only 26% of respondents felt Zoom wouldn’t negatively impact their return to work in-person in the office.
Several factors influenced those who had a concern about virtual meetings impacting their return. 86% of those who were concerned about Zoom’s disruption were respondents who had recently changed jobs. The types of other communications tools being used by teams also impacted concerns over Zoom meetings. Teams using the following tools were the most likely to note concerns with Zoom as a communications channel, feeling that while Zoom might have a positive impact on communications overall, it would negatively affect existing communications channels:
• 90% – Slack
• 89% – Trello
• 87% – Asana
• 83% – GoToMeeting
• 87% – Dialpad
• 98% – Toggl
Zoom dominated the tools used by teams to communicate throughout the pandemic. The way businesses came to structure their communications strategies and engage across other platforms completely changed, so much so that it has become an influential factor in the decision to return to in-person work. However, your business approaches communications, ensuring you have a video platform that allows engagement across teams working in-office and remotely is crucial, and should be integrated in a way that it doesn’t disrupt your existing methods of communicating, but instead enhances and supports all of your other channels of engagement.
37% of Professionals Changed Jobs During the Pandemic
The pandemic has caused significant business disruption not only by changing consumer behaviors but also by causing employees to reassess their professional aspirations and career needs. Our inquiry revealed that 71% of respondents made significant changes in their careers, with roughly half of those changing companies and the other half changing roles without changing employers.
• 37% – Started a job at a different company
• 34% – Changed roles/positions but stayed at the same company
• 29% – Remained in the same role/position at the same company
56% of Respondents Stated That If Seeking a New Job Post-COVID-19, They’d Only Pursue Remote Roles
A major factor for those seeking new jobs post-COVID is the work arrangement in place for potential new employers. A staggering majority of those job seekers are only targeting remote roles for their transition, as remote roles allow a maximum level of flexibility and mobility for job seekers.
• 56% – Very important
• 37% – Somewhat important
• 7% – Unimportant
“I believe remote work expands the reach of businesses beyond their geographical boundaries. This is a golden opportunity for those struggling with rapid growth. They can now hire quality talent who’d work from anywhere in the world! It’s not only cost-efficient, but it also allows a better work-life balance leading to a rise in productivity.”
—Aayush Gupta, Marketing Head, Uplers
If you’ve determined that remote work is a good fit for your work habits and mindset, we’ve gathered a shortlist of tips on how to find remote-based roles that meet your job requirements.
- Know what roles and industries lend themselves to remote work and target your search on job sites accordingly with the proper keywords (for example “distributed,” “remote,” and “virtual”).
- Research job sites and determine which are known for posting remote opportunities.
- Don’t only rely upon search sites; leverage LinkedIn and other social media sites to make connections with professionals in your target companies to discover opportunities.
- Consider freelance and contractual arrangements as a way to leverage part-time remote opportunities into ongoing or permanent remote positions.
Most Employees Want to Work For a Company That Offers Flexible Hours
The need for flexibility isn’t only in the pursuit of remote work arrangements. When queried about what our respondents who are job seeking are looking for in a new job, the top trait being sought after were flexible hours. Benefits and incentives of various types compose a large portion of the remainder of the top traits that employees are seeking out.
(On a scale of 1-10, 1 being the most important trait)
Ability to work flexible hours
Employee health benefits
Opportunities for career advancement
Opportunities for professional development/further education
Life insurance options
Company stock options
Reimbursement for home office equipment
Company social events
Discounted gym memberships
“Remote schedules, forced onto us by the pandemic, proved to many employers that empowering people to choose when and where they work, did not result in a lack of productivity. In many cases, employees became more productive by eliminating commutes, non-essential meetings, and travel, etc. In addition, the pandemic has reminded us that life can be short and curveballs can come out of nowhere. As a result, many workers’ priorities have shifted. Flexible hours and benefits that contribute to a person’s overall well-being are now being prioritized more than ever before, even over compensation packages and signing bonuses. This shift in employee priorities must be recognized and addressed by employers, or they will fail to attract the best talent going forward.”
—Ellen Grealish, Partner/Co-Founder, FlexProfessionals, LLC
The COVID-19 pandemic has destabilized businesses at many levels, leaving employees feeling that they might find better opportunities elsewhere. Whether they are seeking a career pivot with a new employer or with their current company, they are prioritizing remote work opportunities over other arrangements and seeking out jobs with flexibility and extensive benefits at a time when employers have trimmed back on both. What employers are learning quickly, though, as a significant talent gap continues to widen across industries, is that employees are willing to go to great lengths to secure employment on their terms, and they are willing to negotiate aggressively with their sought-after talents to leverage their demands.
Workplace Policies and Initiatives
23% of Professionals Say That Employee Attendance/Timekeeping Has Changed in Their Workplace Post-COVID-19
Just as COVID-19 has changed the dynamics in the job search behaviors of employees, we’ve also seen significant shifts on the part of employers in the company policies surrounding several key areas. Perhaps the most interesting but expected shift is that in employee attendance and timekeeping policies. With more employees working remotely, businesses have had to shift what it means to be “at work” for remote workers, with many implementing controls and tracking to change how productivity is tracked and even in some cases requiring employees to check in throughout the day. Just as prevalent at 23% were changes in vacation and paid leave policies, as employers make the argument that it’s harder with remote workers to measure and track productivity, they’re doing what they can to minimize opportunities for employees to not contribute adequately to the bottom line.
Most changed/added workplace policies post-COVID:
• 23% – Vacation & paid leave
• 23% – Employee attendance/Timekeeping
• 18% – Pay Periods (Paydays)
• 22% – Use of company equipment
• 12% – Sexual harassment and nondiscrimination
• 2% – Other
With employees working from the field, employers are taking the opportunity to shift other policies as well. Rather than employees using in-office computers and other equipment, remote work arrangements require employers to either supply devices that can be used from the field or to have personal devices partially managed by IT to secure company data. This has caused a change in equipment use policies to better protect the employer. Another significant shift in policy around sexual harassment and nondiscrimination policies has likely emerged due to interactions taking place across virtual interfaces and outside of the office, which is difficult to manage and oversee.
87% of Professionals Believe Their Workplace Culture Has Improved Post-COVID-19
Re-opening companies have made significant strides in adjusting workplace culture in the wake of COVID to meet the changing preferences of a now highly mobile workforce. While many employers have improved their cultures, much of the instability and increase in job search behavior can be attributed to the fact that 16% of our respondents haven’t seen an improvement in the workplace culture in post-COVID restructuring.
35% of Respondents Feel That Stronger Team Management Has Been the Most Improved Area At Their Company, Followed By Better Communication
A full third of respondents felt that of the improvements that have been made, improvements to communications channels and methods topped the list. From there, respondents were split on what other aspects had been greatly improved by businesses. Workplace diversity and inclusivity improvements and increased business transparency rounded out another third of the best-of list.
• 35% – Stronger team management
• 31% – Better communication
• 19% – A more diverse and inclusive workforce
• 15% – More transparency
36% of Respondents Also Noted That Weaker Team Management Has Been the Most Challenging Area at Their Company, Followed By Less Transparency
As many improvements as businesses have made, the pandemic has revealed a number of weaknesses as well. As employees navigate post-COVID work conditions, more than a third of our respondents cite weaker team management as the most challenging thing they have to deal with on a regular basis. For businesses struggling to improve matters, the weaknesses and challenges that have been cited by respondents as extremely challenging are elements of the business where more successful organizations have thrived. This includes transparency, poorly supported company culture, and poor communication practices.
• 36% – Weaker team management
• 24% – Less transparency
• 22% – Company culture is lacking
• 18% – More difficult to communicate
54% of Business Owners and Employees Say That Their Company Offers Training and Development Both Online and In-Person Post-COVID-19
Employee development and enrichment is a primary driver of overall job satisfaction and plays a significant role in both recruitment and retention efforts. In a post-COVID landscape, training and development are even more important drivers and must be accessible to the entirety of the workforce. More than half of respondents provide training for both online and in-person attendees, with another 24% of respondents providing the flexibility of online learning platforms. This means that despite the preferences of employees, more than 75% of respondents had access to accessible training opportunities regardless of their ability to attend in person.
Training & Development post-COVID:
• 54% – Offered both online and in-person
• 24% – Only offered online
• 23% – Only offered in-person
“The fact that more than twice as many companies offer hybrid training and development as online-only training and development isn’t surprising. Despite the many benefits of digital technology, businesses have realized that it has limitations. A hybrid approach gives them the best of both worlds – the flexibility and efficiencies of online learning and the immediacy and interaction of in-person training.”
—David Morel, CEO, Tiger Recruitment
The post-pandemic era workplace has not quite solidified for many organizations. However, the changes many businesses have made and continue to implement to their workplace policies reveal a willingness to create more attractive workspaces for potential and existing employees. Employee trends in employment search practices and their demands have shaped these changes and will continue to do so in years to come, forcing businesses to balance ensuring productivity and business continuity against retention and improving employee quality of life.
Understanding Impact of COVID-19 on Employee Expectations Will Help Your HR Department Pivot Effectively in 2022
If you’re in the percentage of companies that haven’t become more flexible and adaptive to employee needs in the post-pandemic landscape, it’s not too late to reassess your current policies. The fact is that remote work arrangements should be proffered to employees by default in industries and businesses where it can be offered up as a benefit. With remote work and hybrid arrangements driving policy decisions, businesses that want to remain successful must be seen to embrace tools for improving communications and facilitating change while balancing the implementation of workplace protections for the safety of employees and the integrity of company productivity.
UpCity’s business-to-business marketplace is a perfect platform for organizations seeking the necessary support and insight into trending human resource practices that will drive employee retention and satisfaction in the coming year. With the partnerships you can establish through UpCity’s list of service providers, you’ll be able to identify where your firm hasn’t gone far enough to implement change and create a plan for success heading into 2022.
UpCity’s Survey Method
UpCity used Pollfish to survey 600 business owners and employees across the United States and Canada.
Most of the respondents own or work at B2B companies (67%) compared to B2C companies (33%). A majority of the businesses have 501-1,000 employees (33%), followed by 5,000+ employees (14%).
Sixty percent of the respondents are male and forty percent are female.