"Ultimately, culture is when you can bring yourself to work and your passion is there because it's more than just a job to you and your team. "
Joey Owens-Barham, Director of Talent Culture
Remote working is not new. It was already increasing in popularity with forward- thinking companies well before 2020. Yet, it’s taken a global pandemic to create the recent huge swing in its adoption, and now the number of remote workers has never been higher.
To help gain a greater insight into whether an appetite for a return to the office still exists, FormAssembly have conducted research into the recent remote working experiences of employees. With an 11 question survey covering broad topics such as video calls, new technology adoption, managing schedules and maintaining a team culture, the report summarizes the current opinions, experiences, and feelings of remote workers.
Having functioned successfully as a 100% remote team for more than a decade, FormAssembly employees already reap the many benefits of remote working. While many companies in early 2020 had to rush to facilitate remote working functionality for their teams, this has all just been business as usual for the FormAssembly team.
To find out more about this recent research and their secrets to successful remote working, we spoke to Joey Owens-Barham, Director of Talent & Culture at FormAssembly.
“When I first began my career in HR it was still pretty rare to be remote, the thinking then was still that you had to be in the office, you had to be there with people. I found out that wasn’t really true, and my immediate discovery at FormAssembly was just how much more productive I was,” Joey explains.
With 60% of survey respondents saying that they want to continue to work from home full time and 27% saying that they’d like to work remotely at least part time, the research reveals that most people have clearly adapted very well to remote working.
“Restrictions on how and when you work don’t necessarily fit in with the natural peaks and valleys in your productivity,” Joey said.. “That’s the beauty of being human; we all have these differences in terms of how we work and what we do in our lives. To make work both work ‘for’ us and ‘with’ us, you need to get out of people’s way and let them shine, let them do what they can do - because that’s why you hired them.”
Their research also reveals that 54% of respondents preferred video meetings over face-to-face communication. 81% of respondents said they spend between 1-3 hours in video meetings per day, while 16% percent spend more than 4 hours. In terms of choice of video-meeting platforms, 80% of respondents said they preferred Zoom, which was also the favored team communications tool (44%) followed by Slack (33%) and Microsoft Teams (24%).
“People still want to be able to connect with each other, even remotely. You are at your job 40 hours a week. That’s a significant portion of your life, and you want it to be enjoyable. You want it to be meaningful, and part of that is the connections you make with inspiring people. You absolutely can do all of that remotely,” Joey said.
Some of the biggest challenges in remote working are not about technology or concerns around productivity. They’re about how your company can create and maintain a strong team culture and community that keeps everyone engaged and motivated while promoting positive mental health.
“Ultimately, culture is when you can bring yourself to work and your passion is there because it’s more than just a job to you and your team. Form Assembly is 100% remote, there’s no office in sight, but the best part about it is that we’re all on an equal playing field and we all have an equal investment in our culture.” Joey said.
“The freeing thing for me and my colleagues is that we don’t have to clock in at 8 and clock out at 5. The focus is on getting the tasks done and meeting the KPIs and deliverables - to work as ‘you’ work best.”
91% of respondents said their workplaces cultivated a strong remote working culture via virtual social activities. The most popular virtual events were coffee talks (37%) followed by happy hours (35%) and virtual group activities like art lessons or baking (19%). Exercise, yoga, and meditation were some of the most common practices that teams adopted to help promote mental health while working remotely.
“We recently held an event celebrating our 100th team member. We had ten different challenges where we had to reach a 100-count of something where there was no way you could reach any of the challenges independently. You had to work ‘together’ as a team to run 100 miles, read 100 books etc. We had 100% participation, and everyone is still feeling the positivity about what we've learned and shared about ourselves and about each other that week.” Joey said.
Many of the businesses who had no other option than to adopt remote working due to COVID-19 are suddenly realizing its huge benefits. They have happier, less-fatigued teams that get to spend more time with their families instead of spending their lives commuting in and out of city-center offices at rush hour. Businesses are also seeing the potential for significant financial savings from no longer needing to rent premium office space. The latest example of this is Pinterest, who have just terminated a massive 490,000-square-foot lease at San Francisco’s 88 Bluxome Project in order to shift towards more remote work.
“The San Francisco Bay area office rent is astronomical. If you have funding, why would you spend 75% of that to lease a 500-square-foot office on Market Street when you could just run it from your living room? Those funds are better distributed and directed towards the work and the product.” Joey said.
Robust and reliable technology is, of course, critical to remote work success. 40% of respondents said that manual data collection and form processing is a challenge while working remotely, with 19% saying that there are new use cases for online forms that help them manage data and streamline remote work processes.
“The beauty with our product is that it is so versatile and there are so many applications that you could use it for. Some are obvious but there are also a lot of really cool and interesting applications of the FormAssembly products that are just really waiting to be discovered,” Joey explains. “You need to research remote working technologies and how much value they can bring. If you go into it with narrow focus, you’re going to miss out on a lot of potential for really maximizsing the value of the products you are integrating.”
History has shown us that those that win during economic downturns are those that embrace change, while those that resist it, lose. Even as we speak, many companies are desperate to pack people back on to trains and herd them back into city center offices, unable to accept that the world has moved on. Other businesses however are recognizing the huge benefits of remote work, not just to their company finances but, more importantly, to their teams’ lifestyle, health, and happiness.
“COVID-19 forced a lot of traditional businesses hands to try remote working. We now have the tools to connect, to understand each other, to relate and build empathy and drive a better end-product, – and it can all be done remotely. You save the commute time for your teams; you can reduce your rent with a smaller office for the people that need it. There will be a lot of lasting changes where more traditional companies will really see that this can not only work but that there’s definite value for your business too,” explains Joey.
FormAssembly is a powerful web form creation and data collection platform with a fully remote team of more than 100 individuals spread out all over the world. The FormAssembly team has functioned successfully as a 100% remote team for more than a decade. Learn how to boost your company’s remote work productivity with the FormAssembly eBook: 22 Ways to Use FormAssembly for Remote Work Success.