Lessons learned from work at home during the pandemic, from Colliers

by Brianna Crandall — October 9, 2020 — Colliers International, a global real estate professional services and investment management company, recently announced the results of its two-month Working From Home Experience Global Survey, which evaluated 5,000 individuals globally to better understand the implications of COVID-19 on the workplace.

The US report examined data from the global survey and focused on topics such as productivity, management, connectivity, work-life balance and more. The team analyzed the responses to explore what the industry as a whole can learn from this experience and react to how it will impact the future of work in the years to come.

The survey was conducted between March and May 2020; a follow-up survey was scheduled to be conducted in September 2020, from which results are not yet available.

Colliers Senior Vice President of Workplace Advisory Keith Perske remarked when the report was published at the end of August:

While the initial data collected from Colliers’ Working From Home Experience Global Survey showcased many positive findings, we must all keep in mind this is an evolving situation without an end-date at the time of this publication. We are beginning to see cracks. We need to continue to gather data to understand if the productivity and satisfaction gains highlighted in our report will be sustained or if new issues will emerge. If the return to the office continues to be postponed, organizations need to pay close attention to isolation, disconnection and cultural deterioration by reexamining work practices and processes.

Colliers workplace strategist Kate North, vice president of Workplace Advisory, added:

The way we think about work has changed forever. There is a massive opportunity for organizations to reimagine their workplaces by having authentic conversations with their employees about how they work and perform best. Providing choice and flexibility is a part of that, but we believe the workplace will play an even more critical role post-COVID-19. An authentically created workplace that immediately signals a feeling of belonging and allows employees to experience the organizational culture, connect with others and enjoy rich collaboration, will be an increasingly powerful business asset.

Key findings from the survey, conducted in 25 countries, include:

  • Connection to colleagues: Overall, the report shows that respondents miss the office as a place to connect and collaborate with their teams, although 74% felt connected to their team when they work from home (thanks to technology).
  • Desire to work from home: However, 83% of the respondents want to keep working from home post-COVID-19 one day a week or more.
  • Productivity: Productivity is one of the two main drivers behind the desire to work from home. This is evidenced by the fact that most respondents (76%) indicated their productivity did not change or even increased.
  • Work-life balance: 67% indicated an improvement in work-life balance, the other main driver for working at home.
  • Management: 87% stated they felt their managers could effectively manage virtually.

The data include an individual’s desire to work from home, and Colliers acknowledges that team and organization perspectives may vary. Also, the growth stage of an organization may impact the number of days employees work from home.

The first part of the report describes the expected impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, shutdowns and reopening protocols on the office and its functionality; this is followed by the US results from the Colliers Working From Home Experience survey.

The US impacts of an extended period of remote work cover the following areas:

  • Environmental implications
  • Access to a larger, more diverse talent pool
  • More emphasis on a proper ergonomic and technological home office setup
  • Better technology to optimize virtual interaction
  • Improvement in managing distributed teams
  • Better ways to separate work and home life
  • More needs for nearby flex space for those whose homes will not work for them

For more information on the Working From Home Experience Global Survey and to download the full Implications of COVID-19 on the Workplace report covering the results, visit the Colliers website. With operations in 68 countries, the firm’s 15,000+ enterprising professionals work collaboratively to provide expert advice to maximize the value of property for real estate occupiers, owners and investors.