CEO and Executive Creative Director at Tribe, Inc., working with global brands to build employee engagement.
In the earlier days of the pandemic, when corporate employees were first settling into working from home, there were widespread reports of high productivity and employee job satisfaction. About six months into it, that’s still true for many — especially when we’re looking at broad strokes.
But a closer look at different groups of employees reveals some interesting differences. In Tribe’s national survey with corporate employees working from home due to the pandemic, we filtered respondents for these differences:
• Parents with younger children at home who need their attention during the day.
• People who describe themselves as introverts.
• Younger employees who are under 30.
For my two earlier articles on this survey, see “Remote Work May Become The New Normal” and “The Impact Of Ongoing Work From Home.”
Parents With Young Kids At Home
When we asked respondents where they’d prefer to work after the pandemic, 23% said they’d like to work at home full time. Among parents with young children at home who need their attention during the day, that number rose to 29%. But when we looked only at women with young kids at home, the numbers were striking. The mothers in this study were 96% more likely to prefer working at home full time, even after it’s safe to go back to the office.
Interestingly, these mothers did not report markedly better work-life balance with remote work, compared to the group as a whole. Across the board, about half the group found working from home resulted in a better work-life balance. Parents, in general, were only 7% more likely than others to report better life-balance at home.
However, mothers seemed happier in their jobs with remote arrangements. Although there wasn’t much difference in reported job satisfaction between parents and the group overall, when we looked only at women with young kids, they were 30% more likely to report that their job satisfaction was higher when working at home.
These women also seemed to miss time hanging around with their co-workers less than other respondents. They were half as likely to agree that they missed the camaraderie of being in the office with people, and about one-third as likely to miss the ability to collaborate more easily in person.
Those Identifying As Introverts
Those respondents who said they considered themselves to be introverts seemed to be missing the breakroom banter just as much as anyone. From the office camaraderie to collaboration to spending time in person with their teams, introverts were nearly as likely as their peers to miss face-to-face workday interactions.
Interestingly, introverts were 13% more likely than the group overall to say they’d prefer to go back to the office full time after the pandemic, even though they were 21% more likely to say their job satisfaction was better working from home.
Introverts also seemed to prefer interacting in person for some work activities. Although 25% of the group overall found it easier to participate in meetings from home (partly due to not having to travel), only 16% of introverts found meetings easier from home. When asked about the differences in building connections with co-workers, introverts were 30% less likely to say that was easy to do from home.
Employees Who Are Under 30
Young millennials also showed some interesting differences from the group. Employees aged 29 and younger, with fewer years of work experience under their belts, seemed to be having a more difficult time working at home. They were 23% more likely to want to return to the office full time when the pandemic is over. They were also 22% more likely to report that they had higher job satisfaction when they were working in the office.
Those numbers may reflect the difficulties of concentrating on their work at home. These younger employees were 52% more likely to say they found it harder to do work that required focused thinking when working remotely, and 59% more likely to say they found meeting their deadlines more challenging.
These younger employees are perhaps more comfortable interacting through technology than some of their older colleagues. They were almost 50% more likely to find participating in meetings easier from home and 17% more likely to find sharing their opinions easier.
But they seemed to be craving the professional interaction of the workplace. When we asked what they missed about working in an office, they were 22% more likely to report that they missed being able to spend time face to face with their teams and 23% more likely to miss being more visible to their boss and other company leadership. They were 19% more likely to miss feeling connected and included. They were even 19% more likely to miss having a reason to get dressed and somewhere to go.
As we learn more about the pros and cons of having corporate employees working remotely, we’ll be better able to serve their cultural and communications needs through the pandemic and beyond. One of the most useful insights in our study is that individual factors, from life stage to family dynamics to personality types, can create widely different employee experiences, expectations and preferences.
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