Remote work, telecommuting and telework are all terms that everyone has become familiar with over the last decade. With the proliferation of IT consumerization and Bring Your Own Tech (BYOT), it has become easier than ever for everyone to stay connected and in tune with work during all hours of the day (and night).
In fact, PGi’s 2016 Global Telework Survey found that 67 percent of North American knowledge workers thought that telecommuting was viewed more positively and has become more widely adopted in their work place—up three percent since 2015. But as telework becomes a more widely accepted practice in the workplace, is everyone really on board?
We wanted to better understand how remote workers perceived their non-remote coworkers’ attitudes toward telecommuting. Did they feel comfortable working from home? Did they feel pressured to get more work done to justify working from home?
We also wanted to understand how non-teleworkers viewed remote working coworkers. Was there actual “remote work shaming” going on from their perspective? Did they believe their peers were productive or did they feel they actually just were taking advantage of not being in the office? What we found was both interesting, insightful and promising.
Loud and Proud Telecommuters
Attitudes toward telecommuting have no doubt taken a turn for the better over the last few years, and what we found proved just that. Our survey found that 82 percent of teleworkers didn’t feel guilty at all when working from home, and 66 percent felt no need to give an explanation to their boss or coworkers about why they were teleworking.
Another 65 percent of these loud and proud teleworkers reported they didn’t feel uncomfortable asking their boss to work from home in the first place, suggesting a more accepting attitude toward teleworking from leaders in their organizations. The more prevalent acceptance may have something to do with the fact that 77 percent of teleworking respondents said they felt much more productive while working from home.
While majority of teleworking respondents were comfortable and confident in their teleworking habits, for 24 percent who still perceived shame about teleworking, we wanted to put their fears to rest once and for all.
Support from the Other Side
For those who noted they were not allowed to work from home (44 percent of those surveyed):
- Fifty-one percent said they felt their coworkers who worked from home were just as productive as they were in-office and 14 percent felt they were actually more productive.
- Sixty-four percent of non-teleworkers reported they did not feel like their remote working peers were given any sort of break on the amount of work given to them.
- Sixty percent did, however, admit they were jealous of their peers who got to work from home—and we feel that’s totally understandable!
The Current State of Telework
It’s clear that teleworking is seeing a steady rate of acceptance in today’s workplace. One-third of employees surveyed currently work from home at least one to two days a week, and nearly 70 percent of those respondents didn’t feel like working from home would negatively affect their ability to receive a promotion or felt that working from home affected how their peers viewed their performance.
This then, leads us to the question of why perceptions about teleworking have changed for the better over the last few years? The answer could lie in the shift in generations in the workplace.
The Generational Shift: A Catalyst for Teleworking
By the year 2025, it is estimated that Millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce. With a small representation of Generation X and the increasing retirement rate among Baby Boomers, many businesses will be facing a leadership gap that can only be filled by Millennials. As these leadership roles are slowly being taken up by younger Gen Xers and older Millennials, could there be a correlation between the uptick in acceptance of teleworking and policies regarding teleworking?
In our survey, we found that over 50 percent of those working from home were Gen Xers, and 30 percent were Millennials. Only 15 percent of those working remotely identified as Baby Boomers. And when asked which age group(s) was the most likely to shame others for working from home, Baby Boomers rang in a nearly 50 percent.
With this data, we found a clear correlation between which generations were more accepting of remote work and who was stifling the opportunity of promoting remote work in the workplace. We believe that both a generational divide in workplace culture and the knowledge or acceptance of mobile technology could be causing the rift between Baby Boomers and younger generations when it comes to teleworking.
Both Gen Xers and Millennials grew up in the technology boom of the 1990s and early 2000s, giving them a distinct advantage of understanding the positive effect technology could have on both their personal and professional lives. More so, Millennials have been reported time and time again as being huge proponents of work/life balance and have rated this as a top benefit they look for when searching for jobs.
With this in mind, we believe that the increasing acceptance of teleworking is propelled by these two generations stepping into leadership roles in the workplace. As Baby Boomers continue to retire at an increasing rate, Gen Xers and Millennials will begin taking their place as leaders in today’s workforce. And with this generational shift, we predict telecommuting will no longer be a workplace taboo, freeing knowledge workers of their preconceived notions of shame and judgement.
For the full results of PGi’s Remote Work Shaming Survey please email [email protected].