Employee Work-From-Home Preferences Expected To Outlast Pandemic

Working from home post-pandemic holds significant appeal for some groups of employees. A survey of customer service and support workers found that for a clear majority (70 percent) the preference is to continue working from home (WFH) at least once a week after the pandemic ends, according to a survey by Gartner, Inc.

Gartner’s survey of 5,000 employees, including 550 customer service professionals, found that service employees who traditionally did not have many opportunities to WFH are now used to it and like it, and they wish to continue in some capacity once the pandemic is over. This is in line with most service leaders who believe WFH is here to stay post-pandemic. Eighty-one percent of service leaders believe between 30 percent to 80 percent of their workforce will primarily be working from home two years from now.

“As service leaders weigh the future of their work-from-home programs, they’ll have to balance their own visions for the future with employee wishes,” says Lauren Villeneuve, advisory director in the Gartner Customer Service & Support practice. “A key factor should be the impact it has had and will continue to have on the employee experience. Leaders will want to understand which focus areas should be prioritized and which should not as they decide where to invest in and optimize their work-from-home programs.”

Since the mass shift to working from home, many service leaders report growing concerns for the future of their company culture. However, Gartner data indicates WFH has posed less of a challenge to organizational culture than anticipated. In fact, most customer service employees who work remotely say organizational culture has remained the same—and most of those who do think it’s changed actually say it’s improved since the shift to WFH. Gartner recommends that service leaders should continue to monitor culture within their own organizations, but may want to consider investing time and resources elsewhere.

While employees affirm WFH hasn’t negatively impacted culture, it has impacted collaboration. Service employees say they are collaborating less frequently since transitioning to WFH. While service leaders have invested in collaboration technologies, Gartner suggests they make sure they also create opportunities for collaboration, model collaborative behavior and reward collaboration when it occurs to ensure the technology is used.

Pre-pandemic biases against remote employees now seem particularly unfounded given employee performance has largely remained consistent throughout the pandemic, Gartner notes. While the vast majority of service employees continue to WFH, this presents less of an issue. But if managers hold these beliefs once some employees return to the workplace, they could create a barrier to career progression for employees who choose to continue working from home. Service leaders should work to uncover why these biases exist and closely monitor managers who manage remote employees or hybrid teams for signs of bias.

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