For those technologists used to working full-time in an office, the sudden shift to remote work with COVID-19 led to an inevitable period of adjustment. But now, a few months into the nationwide lockdowns (which have only just begun to lift in many locations), technologists have established set routines and feelings about their home offices.
Over the past few months, Dice has conducted its ongoing COVID-19 Sentiment Survey to see how technologists are faring during these uncertain times. With the latest iteration of the survey—our fourth, taken two weeks after our third—we also took a deep dive into our technologists’ opinions about work-from-home. Here’s what we asked, and what they told us:
What are the main professional benefits you receive from working remotely vs. working in an office?
Overall, technologists seem to enjoy the “easiness” that comes with working from home. And why not? It’s maybe fifty feet from your bedroom to your workstation, which means you can rush from bed to that first morning meeting in a matter of seconds. You can set up your workspace for maximum productivity, and many of the minor inconveniences of office life—such as waiting for the elevator, or finding that the office coffee machine is out of that brand you like—are nonfactors.
Related to that, many technologists liked the “relaxed approach” that comes with working from home, which we presume means the ability to wear sweatpants from dawn until dusk. A high percentage also cited boosted productivity, which makes sense: You can tailor your home environment to keep distractions to a minimum, and there are no colleagues around to tap you on the shoulder at random moments (random Slack messages are another thing entirely).
For technologists who really need to lock down for big blocks of time in order to plan and code, the added time to work and think is a huge benefit. No wonder a very small percentage of our respondents said there were “no professional benefits” to working from home.
(Quick thing to note for this and the subsequent few questions: As technologists could select more than one answer, the percentages obviously add up to far more than 100 percent).
What are the main personal benefits you receive from working remotely vs. working in an office?
Working from home comes with a host of personal benefits, as well. Around 80 percent of our respondents pointed to the money they saved on commuting as one substantial benefit; even if you don’t drive to work, which many technologists do, the bus, train and subway fares really add up over a period of months.
An easier commute was cited by many technologists, as well as schedule control. Working from home returns quite a bit of time otherwise spent sitting in a car or crossing an office campus, and (based on their answers here) our respondents seemed to be spending a chunk of that time on family, relaxation, and hobbies:
What is the main overall benefit you receive from working remotely vs. working in an office?
More flexibility and schedule-control was cited as the main overall benefit of remote work, followed by boosted productivity and cost-effectiveness. Although working from home can easily lead to burnout, and there are sometimes communication and work-life issues that must be addressed, the substantial majority of technologists see a variety of benefits in the practice.
What is the highest salary cut you would take to work remotely?
Technologists seemed pretty united in their answer to this particular question: They wouldn’t take a salary cut in order to work remotely. Of those who said they’d take a cut of some sort, a very small percentage said they’d agree to anything more than 5 percent of their current salary.
This answer in unsurprising in broader context. For starters, many technologists worked from home at least part of the time long before the COVID-19 pandemic came crashing down. Second, the rise of cloud-based apps and powerful-but-cheap hardware means that the majority of technologists can do their jobs from pretty much anywhere—as they’re proving during this latest crisis. And if they’re just as effective doing their jobs from their living rooms as they are in the office, why should they take a cut in their paychecks?
How desirable is working in the following settings?
A third of our responding technologists really don’t like the idea of working in the office all the time. In fact, only four percent called it “extremely desirable.” Combined with our other data, it’s clear that many technologists see some amount of remote work as a preferred state. But how much remote work do they actually want?
In order to answer that question, we decided to take things another level down and ask our technologists what they thought about part-time or flexible remote work. In a twist that should surprise nobody, the majority found such an idea desirable, with a third deeming it “extremely desirable.”
For managers who are negotiating with team members over benefits and perks, this is definitely something to note once the COVID-19 lockdowns fully lift and everything returns to some semblance of normalcy: A workforce that works some percentage of the time from home is a happy workforce.
In a similar vein, we also asked technologists how they felt about full-time remote work. The short answer: Good. More than a third thought it was “extremely desirable,” and a mere nine percent thought the concept was not desirable at all.
Do you think that a significant number of employees working remotely is a detriment to company culture?
No, technologists don’t think that a significant number of remote workers will somehow degrade company culture. The nationwide COVID lockdowns back up this assertion: Although employees had to rapidly adjust their workflows to suit the new environment, many companies adapted quickly. Although in-person meetings and standups have their benefits, technologists have also shown that they can make do with messaging apps, phone calls, and other ways to virtually stay in touch with colleagues and managers.
If desirable remote work becomes more prevalent, would you consider relocating your residence to live elsewhere?
Responses to this question split into neat thirds. As companies such as Facebook and Twitter plan on shifting from in-office to remote work for the majority of their employees, it’s also an extremely vital question for thousands of technologists. A third of technologists don’t want to relocate even in the event of desirable remote work, due to what could be any number of causes (family, a love of their current location, etc.), while another third are definitely interested in the idea.
As we move past the pandemic, it will be interesting to see whether companies attempt to lower average salaries in locations with a lower cost of living. Our survey data suggests that technologists would not be very happy with that.
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