No matter where in the world you log in from—Silicon Valley, London, and beyond—COVID-19 has triggered a mass exodus from traditional office life. Now that the lucky among us have settled into remote work, many are left wondering if this massive, inadvertent work-from-home experiment will change work for good.
In the following charts, we feature data from a comprehensive survey conducted by UK-based startup network Founders Forum, in which hundreds of founders and their teams revealed their experiences of remote work and their plans for a post-pandemic future.
While the future remains a blank page, it’s clear that hundreds of startups have no plans to hit backspace on remote work.
Based primarily in the UK, almost half of the survey participants were founders, and nearly a quarter were managers below the C-suite.
Prior to pandemic-related lockdowns, 94% of those surveyed had worked from an external office. Despite their brick-and-mortar setup, more than 90% were able to accomplish the majority of their work remotely.
Gen X and Millennials made up most of the survey contingent, with nearly 80% of respondents with ages between 26-50, and 40% in the 31-40 age bracket.
From improved work-life balance and productivity levels to reduced formal teamwork, these entrepreneurs flagged some bold truths about what’s working and what’s not.
Founders With A Remote Vision
If history has taught us anything, it’s that world events have the potential to cause permanent mass change, like 9/11’s lasting impact on airport security.
Although most survey respondents had plans to be back in the office within six months, those startups are rethinking their remote work policies as a direct result of COVID-19.
How might that play out in a post-pandemic world?
Based on the startup responses, a realistic post-pandemic work scenario could involve 3 to 5 days of remote work a week, with a couple dedicated in-office days for the entire team.
Upwards of 92% of respondents said they wanted the option to work from home in some capacity.
It’s important to stay open to learning and experimenting with new ways of working. The current pandemic has only accelerated this process. We’ll see the other side of this crisis, and I’m confident it will be brighter.
— Evgeny Shadchnev, CEO, Makers Academy
Productivity Scales at Home
Working from home hasn’t slowed down these startups—in fact, it may have improved overall productivity in many cases.
More than half of the respondents were more productive from home, and 55% also reported working longer hours.
Blurred lines, however, raised some concerns.
From chores and rowdy children to extended hours, working from home often makes it difficult to compartmentalize. As a result, employers and employees may have to draw firmer lines between work and home in their remote policies, especially in the long term.
Although the benefits appear to outweigh the concerns, these issues pose important questions about our increasingly remote future.
Teams Reveal Some Intel
To uncover some work-from-home easter eggs (“Better for exercise. MUCH more pleasant environment”), we grouped nearly 400 open-ended questions according to sentiment and revealed some interesting patterns.
From serendipitous encounters and beers with colleagues to more formal teamwork, an overwhelming number of the respondents missed the camaraderie of team interactions.
It was clear startups did not miss the hours spent commuting every day. During the pandemic, those hours have been replaced by family time, work, or other activities like cooking healthy meals and working out.
Remote working has been great for getting us through lockdown—but truly creative work needs the magic of face to face interaction, not endless Zoom calls. Without the serendipity and chemistry of real-world encounters, the world will be a far less creative place.
— Rohan Silva, CEO, Second Home
The Future Looks Remote
This pandemic has delivered a new normal that’s simultaneously challenging and revealing. For now, it looks like a new way of working is being coded into our collective software.
What becomes of the beloved open-office plan in a pandemic-prepped world remains to be seen, but if these startups are any indication, work-life may have changed for good.