New Zealand has seen some of the world’s toughest lockdown and social distancing restrictions in response to the pandemic. And these measures have had a significant impact on work culture across the country. In almost every sector, people have had to swiftly adapt to remote working, adopting a range of online collaboration tools along the way, enabling a new working model.
Of all the lockdown restrictions Kiwis have resented amidst a tough lockdown, Working From Home (WFH) is not one of them. New research from GetApp shows a large majority of Kiwis now want remote working to be a regular feature of their lives. 80% confirmed they would like to work from outside the traditional office environment at least weekly post-COVID-19.
According to Stats NZ, over 40% of employed people were able to do at least some of their work from home during the lockdown in April and early May. Half of those workers had not done so previously.
To study the impact of the pandemic on the working practices, as well as the preferences of employees, we asked over 400 New Zealanders about their experiences of remote working since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. The findings make interesting reading for employers wanting to optimise management of a remote workforce, revealing new insight into the practices that can help staff maximise productivity while away from the office (full methodology is available at the bottom of the article).
44% of Kiwis feel a hybrid working improves their productivity
The COVID-19 pandemic has steered a change in the work preferences of employees and employers in New Zealand, which is likely to see hybrid working – a blend of remote working and in-office working models – become the new normal.
When asked how often they would like to work remotely post-pandemic, almost a quarter (24%) confirmed they would like to do so full-time, and one to three times a week would be the optimum amount:
The reason? Our survey suggests productivity may be a key factor driving this preference. 44% believe they perform better when they can mix it up between in-office and remote working.
Today, a large majority of employees report that they are satisfied with their individual productivity (87%), team productivity (85%), and quality of work (90%) when they work remotely.
One reason for these high levels of satisfaction could be that staff also feel better equipped to manage their professional and private lives. Almost nine in 10 (87%) workers feel satisfied (“Moderately satisfied” or “Completely satisfied”) with the level of work-life balance they can achieve in remote working environments.
29% struggle setting boundaries with family members or housemates
While most employees are finding remote working beneficial for work-life balance, our research suggests a significant minority are encountering challenges. 29% of people revealed they had struggled to establish healthy work-life boundaries with family members or housemates, stating they had only minimally established boundaries or failed to set any boundaries at all. Similarly, many workers feel pressure to put more hours in when working away from the office:
Other common remote working challenges include:
In addition to outlining the difficulties they had encountered, respondents also shared some of their top tips for optimising approaches to remote working. Some of the more common advice included:
- Maintain clear physical boundaries between your workstation at home and personal living spaces
- Have a set routine and time for logging in and out of work
- Stick to email etiquettes, do not send them at odd hours / after hours
- Dress up for work and have a set schedule for each day
- Don’t forget to take breaks and add some physical activity to your routine. Take time away from your screen
Beyond issues relating to work-life balance or establishing an effective routine, the research suggests employers may need to invest in training, systems and support.
39% believe they could benefit from additional training to help you adjust to more hybrid or remote ways of working. And most of our sample reported that IT or infrastructure-related limitations had prevented them from working effectively at times.
Kiwis are ready for the longer-term transition to remote working
It appears working from home has truly become a part of New Zealand’s culture following the strict lockdown in response to the pandemic. In fact, 56% of employees are considering relocating, moving further away from their office, now that remote and hybrid working practices are more commonly accepted.
Aside from the convenient home-office infrastructure, employees are further motivated by encouraging attitude of management who they believe are supportive of remote ways of working.
By listening to staff, and working to supporting their preferences, new hybrid working trends offer employers a unique opportunity to improve employee satisfaction and boost broader business performance.
Data for this study was collected in November 2020 from an online survey of 424 respondents that live in New Zealand.
To participate in the survey, respondents had to be:
- Employed full-time or part-time, or self-employed
- Working for a company with at least two people
- Working remotely sometimes or all the time since COVID-19.