Lessons learned from employees working from home during pandemic

What works and doesn’t work is at the center of a study that a Tampa researcher put together for companies that want to keep staff working remotely beyond the pandemic.

Millions of people have sat through hundreds of Zoom calls, set up network connections and maybe even added to their work-from-home space after businesses were forced to transition to remote work in March and April.

"Big companies who really didn’t go for remote work in the past now saying they’re going to permit and are embracing it," said psychology professor Tammy Allen of the University of South Florida.

Allen studied almost 500 people for two months who made the transition in the spring, like teachers, finance agents, and social workers. The participants answered surveys regarding how they felt about the transition, any challenges and what they needed.

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"One of the lessons learned for organizations is to make sure they do help their employees," said Allen. "Maybe if they weren’t given the equipment right away when we all had to make this switch so quickly, there are things they can do now."

Other takeaways and recommendations for companies included:

  • allowing more flexibility and understanding,
  • wanting managers to be more responsive and trusting,
  • encouraging general breaks,
  • improving resources.

That's just a snapshot of the tips researchers are pushing to employers.

"The Society for Human Resource Management just sent a summary of our report out to all of their members. So HR folks are the people that we really do need to connect with," Allen said.

The COVID-19 vaccine gives hope for coming back in person, but some companies may decide to keep staffers working remotely. Yet, researchers found the pandemic changed expectations.

"What most employees want is more of a hybrid situation where they can be in the office a few days a week, work from home a few days a week," said Allen about the study’s participants’ desire to work remotely full-time.

Researchers want the study to be a guide for companies that decide to keep remote work going especially if it was a new transition for the business. Overall, they found people adjusted well, but not having the proper equipment or work-life balance stressed workers.