April 8, 2021
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Water Cooler Chats with Co-workers

Impromptu chats at the water cooler are a feature of office work that 43% of co-workers who have been working remotely during the last year miss the most.

36% miss a better workstation or office set-up, while 25% miss eating lunch out the most. 20% of remote workers miss Happy Hour with colleagues.12% deem not being able to get away from their partner as the most missed feature of homeworking.

These homeworking statistics were unveiled by a survey conducted by YouGov and Otter.ai, providers of tools to improve virtual meetings.

The survey interviewed 2,000 remote workers in the US and UK to find out what they think about remote working set-ups. The survey was also designed to provide insight on how businesses can improve productivity and morale by modifying the way they hold meetings.

Remote Workers Miss Water Cooler Chats, Happy Hour

All participants have been working at least partially from home since the beginning of the pandemic. Almost 40% have been working from home full-time and believe they will continue to do so indefinitely. 36% of participants are also fully remote but think they will return to the office full or part-time in the future. 24% are hybrid working. 20% of homeworkers say they never want to return to the office, and 14% say they want to when it is safe to do so. 45% would prefer a hybrid working set-up when it is safe to return to the office.

Businesses Need to Change Structure of Virtual Meetings

Virtual meetings have been an almost mandatory feature of the remote working era. Despite months of remote work, improvements can be made to virtual meetings, as the survey found.

42% of respondents say they have experienced Zoom fatigue since the pandemic began. To improve virtual meetings, more than half of those surveyed said meetings should always have agendas. 35% of remote workers believe people should only have to attend the relevant sections of meetings. 33% are of the opinion that meetings should be shorter. 26% say meeting notes should always be shared with attendees.

With economies opening, many businesses are considering working setups moving forward out of the pandemic. The research provides insightful information to employers about employees’ thoughts about remote work. Many employees are in favor of being offered hybrid work opportunities. Meetings are another element of remote work that businesses should work on improving, as unveiled by the survey.

Overcoming Zoom Fatigue

Sam Liang, CEO and founder of Otter.ai, commented on the findings of the research and how businesses can help overcome ‘Zoom fatigue’:

“Our survey shows that work will never be the same as before the pandemic. Employees now demand a flexible, collaborative and hybrid work set up that meets the new work-life balance and changing attitudes created by working from home for such a long period.

“Zoom Fatigue is real, and meetings need to be adapted to suit our new working environment, whether that is fundamentally changing the structure of meetings or seeing employees engage with productivity and collaboration apps that help with meeting notes and allow the sharing of conversations in real time. Perhaps making a rule that all employees should wear pants on virtual meetings is another good one to add to the list,” said Liang.

The impact Zoom fatigue is having on employees range from poor productivity (41%) to control of work hours (32%). 27% of respondent said Zoom fatigue means they have the inability to leave home due to work. 24% it has led to a lack of collaboration and 22% say it has caused sleep problems.

Lack of Engagement During Virtual Meetings

The survey asked remote workers what they have done during virtual meetings in the past 12 months. 31% admit to having private conversations with friends in virtual meetings. 30% have worn pajamas. 23% have shopped online and 15% have played computer games. 9% have drank alcohol or been drunk during remote meetings.

The takeaway from the survey is that employees are demanding flexible, hybrid work set-ups that meet new work-life balance demands. However, to cater for new working environments, businesses need adapt virtual meetings, so employees remain engaged and less prone to suffering from Zoom fatigue.

Image: Depositphotos

This article, “43% of Remote Workers Miss the Water Cooler Chats with Co-workers” was first published on Small Business Trends