Work From Home Analysis

Part
01
of seven
Part
01

Work-from-Home Workers - Pain Points

While work-from-home professionals currently make up an estimated 3.4% of the workforce, this percentage is expected to increase dramatically. Below is a summary of research findings on key needs, obstacles, and pain points experienced by the US-based work-from-home (WFH) workers.

Needs of WFH workers

  • With the majority of WFH roles being computer-based, a fast, reliable internet connection and a dedicated workspace that is free of distractions become the key needs of WFH workers. Internet speeds of at least 40 Mbps are recommended for jobs that require frequent downloading and uploading of large files.
  • Multiple sources pointed to the importance of human connection as a common need of WFH workers. If other team members work together in an office, WFH workers can often feel isolated or out of the loop. Frequent scheduled points of communication are effective for resolving this with the help of several inexpensive solutions available to WFH workers.

Obstacles of WFH workers

  • Numerous sources cite distractions as a key obstacle experienced by WFH workers. In some cases, distractions lead to decreased productivity. Time management is also important for WFH workers when there's an absence of accountability in being surrounded by co-workers and managers or supervisors.

Key pain points of WFH workers

  • Several sources consider technology issues and the lack or limitation of support to quickly and fully resolve them among the significant pain points for WFH workers. Problems in accessing a company's VPN or connection issues during hybrid meetings can lead to frustration for WFH workers.
  • For WFH workers in leadership roles, managing a remote team can be a challenge. From building team morale to managing productivity and creating a sense of culture, developing strategies to overcome these pain points can better ensure a productive and successful arrangement.
  • Working too much is frequently mentioned as a pain point for WFH workers. It can be hard to turn it off and stick to a standard work schedule. WFH workers report working over 40 hours per week 43% more often than their on-site coworkers.
Part
02
of seven
Part
02

Work-from-Home Workers - Case Studies

Some examples of brands with an established remote working atmosphere which accommodated work-from-home workers include Articulate and Buffer companies. Below is the detail of the findings.

Case study 1#: Articulate Company

Articulate Overview

  • Articulate company was founded in 2002 and its based in the United States.
  • This company is trusted by more than 98,000 organizations worldwide. A report revealed that about 104 million learners in 151 countries have learned new skills from online courses created with Articulate applications.
  • The company's line of business includes designing, developing, and producing "prepackaged computer software."
  • Articulate's empowered its employees by providing an opportunity for its workers to work from home.
  • Also, the company provides an equipment and technology stipend for setting up a home office, flexible paid time off, and annual retreats for its workers.
  • Some examples of the company products include Articulate 360, Storyline 360, Rise 360, Content Library 360, Review 360, among others.

Articulate Features

  • Articulate helps to create tools to author e-learning courses on the web and mobile platforms.
  • This company is also committed to create an enabling environment for e-learning programs with easy access to online training courses globally.
  • Articulate company is driven by three core values which include autonomy, productivity, and respect.
  • A report revealed that this company also provide high-quality products that are reliable and users' friendly to solve customers' needs.
  • Also, this company invests millions every year to their "e-learning heroes community" to provide adequate support, guidance, and empowerment to their clients.

Articulate Pricing

  • This company provides 60-day free trials of Articulate 360 for its new users.
  • For Articulate 360 for businesses, team plan subscription fee is $1,299 per annum.
  • Articulate 360 pricing for a freelancer or an individual; personal plan is $999
  • Articulate 360 pricing for an academic purpose; personal plan and team plan is $499 and $649 respectively.
  • Clients' subscription to Articulate 360 provides access to other company products such as Storyline 360, Rise 360, among others.

Case study 2#: Buffer company

Buffer Overview

  • This company was founded in 2010 and its based in the United States.
  • This company is known for providing social media management software for growing businesses to build their brands.
  • A report revealed that over 75,000 growing businesses have utilized Buffer products build their brands.
  • Buffer has a range of 51-200 employees working in different countries at various time zones.
  • This company has suite of products for publishing, engagement, analyzing, and team collaboration.

Buffer company features

Buffer Pricing

  • For new users, this company offers 14-day free trial for all their products.
  • Buffer company has three major products which include "Publish," "Reply," and "Analyze."
  • Publish monthly subscription for Pro, Premium, & Business plans is $15, $65, and $99 respectively.
  • Reply monthly subscription for Pro & Business plans is $50 and $225 respectively.
  • Analyze monthly subscription for Pro & Business plans is $35 and $50 respectively.
  • Also, this company offers 20% discount on all their products for annual subscription plan.

Research Strategy

To address the research request, our initial approach was to identify precompiled lists of brands that have established a remote working atmosphere for the work-from-home (WFH) workers. After searching through market reports and press releases we were able to identify some companies within this category. Therefore, we selected some companies based in the United States that revealed their pricing data and other related information required. In addition, we explored through the websites of companies' identified to reaffirm that they provide a remote working atmosphere for workers in the specified category.






Part
03
of seven
Part
03

Work-from-Home Workers - Key Features

Having a dedicated office space is an important first step for someone working from home because it will help them to concentrate and easily detach when the day is over. According to Fortune, one would not go to an office that does not have the right equipment, that is why people would ensure that their remote/home workspaces are fully equipped. In this regard, some of the key features that are important in a remote office space for the work-from-home (WFH) worker include a computer or a laptop, fast internet connection, a VPN, and communication equipment.

Computer/Laptop

  • To get the job done, one of the most important things a person needs is a computer or a laptop. Some companies issue their employees with a laptop. This kind of gadget is important for work to get done.
  • Having a laptop might be better than a computer because laptops are easy to set up and they do not require a big workspace.
  • Moreover, although this may not be a good idea at the moment because of the coronavirus pandemic, laptops allow one to work from other places other than the office space such as coffee shops or in libraries in case of situations such as loss of electricity or internet connection because they are portable.
  • Additionally, one should also stock up on the necessary wires, cords, and adapters among others to ensure that their work doesn't get disrupted by the lack of these things.

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

  • Before starting to work from a home workspace, one should also make sure that they are connected to a VPN.
  • Being connected to a VPN is important because it encrypts data and scans devices for malware, preventing a company's sensitive information from being leaked.
  • Some companies provide their own VPN to off-site employees that need to access certain websites or servers that store internal information. However, in cases that the company does not provide the VPN, it is important for a work-from-home worker to invest in one to increase security.
  • Failing to use a VPN will not only impact the work in a home workspace but can also impact the entire organization as it increases the chances of a security breach especially if the work-from-home worker is connected to a network they do not have control over.

Fast Internet Connection

  • Internet speed plays a very crucial part in how effectively a work-from-home worker completes their tasks and delivers on their responsibilities.
  • The level of internet speed required mostly depends on the type of work being done. If the work-from-home worker only needs to reply to emails and simple web browsing, then the internet speed might not matter a lot. However, for things like conference calls, group video calls, and uploading or downloading large files, these would definitely require fast internet connection. Otherwise, they will be affected.
  • Fast internet connection is a key feature because when the internet connection is slow and unreliable, it will definitely hurt the productivity of the work-from-home worker because they will probably be spending a lot of time looking at buffering wheels than actually doing their jobs.
  • Therefore, for good communication with clients as well as team members and delivering projects and tasks on time, a fast internet connection is quite important.
  • Scott Hanselman, a consultant and former professor, advises that when working from home, one should let people know if he/she loses internet connection.

Communication Equipment

  • Staying in touch with colleagues and clients through emails, video and conference calls, and chat tools like slack and alike are also important because communicating with colleagues continues to strengthen a company's culture and nurtures relationships even when working from home.
  • Taking part in video and call conferences, even if they are optional, also ensures that the work-from-home worker is heard. Moreover, communicating also ensures that people who were collaborating on a task get the job done. Therefore, having the right communication equipment is also a key feature.
  • In addition to minding people's time zones and schedules, a work-from-home worker also needs teleconferencing software such as Zoom and Skype.
  • Headsets for calls that are comfortable and have easily accessible mics and mute buttons and webcams that are not at keyboard level are some of the types of equipment a work-from-home worker might need to facilitate communication.

Part
04
of seven
Part
04

Remote Working - 5G Impact

Some effects that 5G will have on remote working are a decrease in geographical limitations, an enhancement and revolution of VR, an increment in productivity, the turning of remote working into an industry standard, and the facilitation of specialized jobs to be done remotely.

Geographical Limitations Will Decrease

  • Working remotely usually has difficulties with the internet connection, depending on the location of the worker. With 5G remote workers will connect to the internet no matter where they are (e.g. mountain, train).
  • Also, workers will be able to participate in video conferences, real-time collaborations, access cloud data, and share large files from any location.

VR Will Grow and Revolutionize Remote Working

  • As virtual reality (VR) keeps growing, 5G technology will help to mainstream it through its high speed and low latency. 5G will make VR "more reliable, accessible, and immersive."
  • With the use of VR, training team members remotely will be easier. Sectors such as healthcare and manufacturing that need physical demonstrations will also benefit from VR. Also, VR will help to conduct and attend meetings across different cities.

Productivity Will Increase

  • With more speed from 5G, remote workers will be able to be more productive, completing tasks in less time. Also, these workers will be able to do chores that they were not able to do when having a slower internet speed.
  • However, increased flexibility and accessibility will not only make remote workers more productive but will likely make them susceptible to "burnout" as they will constantly be online and work extra hours.

Remote Working Will Become an Industry Standard

  • Due to 5G's speed and reliability, remote working will become an industry standard as it will allow more companies to adopt it.
  • 5G will facilitate the creation of "individual virtual networks within a shared infrastructure" and set up private, tailored 5G networks to meet the specific business needs.

5G Will Facilitate Specialized Jobs to be Done Remotely

  • With the beneficial features of 5G, some workers will be able to do more specialized and difficult jobs, that today require physical presence, remotely.
  • For example, construction workers will be able to control excavators from miles away, doctors will be able to provide consultations from afar, and surgeons will be able to guide surgical robots from remote places.
Part
05
of seven
Part
05

Work-from-Home Workers - COVID-19 Impact

Three ways in which COVID-19 is expected to impact the growth in the work-from-home industry are the increase in the number of large companies implementing work-at-home policies, the possible permanence of remote work at some companies, and the increase in remote technology vendors serving the work-at-home population.

Public Company Transcripts

  • In February 2020, 77 transcripts from public companies mentioned "work from home" or "working from home," which was up from just four transcripts a year earlier. Most of these documents also mention "coronavirus," suggesting that the increases in mentions are related.
  • The increase from four to 77 represents a 1,825% increase in a single year and the only significant difference between February 2019 and February 2020 is the presence of COVID-19.
  • In February 2020, COVID-19 began spreading across the globe, landing in the United States, which caused more companies to direct their employees to work from home. The impact of this decision was to increase the number of public companies mentioning this development in their transcripts as they seek to communicate their COVID-19 preparations to their investors.
  • Erin L. Kelly, a professor of work and organization studies at the MIT Sloan School of Management believes that the "coronavirus crisis may be the nudge that companies need to let go of outdated policies and practices—and discover that working differently can be advantageous for everyone involved."

Increase May be Permanent

  • According to Kay Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics, the COVID-19 is showing companies that remote work can be successful and can be implemented fairly easily.
  • Therefore, an impact the virus may have on the work-from-home industry is that it "has the potential to fast-track the move by making it more universally accepted and prominent."
  • Steve King, a consultant at Emergent Research, agrees with Lister, stating, "we think the potential pandemic will have a positive impact on the growth of remote work [and] working from home (at an obviously very negative human cost)."
  • However, this impact is dependent on the length of the crisis. If it is over fairly quickly, then people will likely go back to working the way they have always worked. However, Lister says, "if the pandemic happens and lasts for a while it could cause a stronger, longer-term shift to remote work."

Work-at-Home Technology Stocks and User bases Increase

  • As more companies decide to send at least part of their workforce to remote working locations, the stock market prices and user bases of remote technology are climbing.
  • ComputerWorld noted that in the past month (February to March 2020), "the stock prices of Slack and video-conferencing software Zoom have risen" even as the rest of the stock market declined.
  • Zoom also reported that they registered more new users of its video-conferencing technology in the first two months of 2020 than they did in all 2019.
  • According to Raúl Castañón-Martínez, senior analyst at 451 Research, "the uptake in remote working has directly led to the rise of vendors like Zoom, which emerged precisely due to its relevance for enabling and connecting remote teams."
  • Other remote technology vendors who are experiencing increases in user bases include BlueJeans, Challo, Microsoft Teams, and Workplace by Facebook.
  • The impact this will have on the work-at-home industry is that it will encourage the creation of more remote technology vendors and remote employees will have more choices.
Part
06
of seven
Part
06

Work-from-Home - Generational Differences

Five insights into generational differences in the work-from-home lifestyle include the location where they work, caring for family members while working, the type of remote work they do, their willingness to travel, and the main reason why they choose to work remotely. Details of these insights are below.

Location

  • According to the VirtualVocations Generational Remote Work Statistics report, 61.4% of millennials prefer to work remotely from a coffee shop or a co-working space.
  • Generation X and baby boomer remote workers are less likely to work at a coffee shop or co-working space with only 53.0% and 37.8% choosing these locations respectively.

Family Care

  • Millennial remote workers are the most likely generation to regularly care for a child or other family member while working at home (46.4%).
  • Generation X remote workers are still somewhat likely to be regularly caring for a child or other family member while working at home (35.7%).
  • At 9.8%, Baby boomers are the least likely generation to regularly care for a child or other family member while working at home.

Type of Remote Work

Travel

  • All generations are willing to travel at least occasionally as remote workers, but generation X is the most willing at 70.1%.
  • Millennials are next at 66.5% willing to travel at least occasionally as remote workers, but baby boomers are not far behind at 65.9%.

Flexibility

  • Flexibility in their work schedule is a top reason why remote workers choose this lifestyle, but it is slightly more important for millennials (59.1%) and baby boomers (58.4%) than it is for generation X workers (56.5%).
Part
07
of seven
Part
07

Work-from-Home Workers - Families

Although working from home has many benefits, one of the primary challenges for WFH workers with families is maintaining good boundaries between work life and family life. However, WFH workers can help condition their families to their needed schedule/requirements by using door signs/door locks, sticking to a set schedule and communicating expectations. WFH workers with small children might also consider taking advantage of children's nap/sleep times or hiring part-time child care.

Creating Boundaries with Door Signs or Locks

  • WFH workers can create boundaries with their families by putting a "STOP, in a meeting" sign on the door to their home office, according to "Secrets of the Remote Workforce" co-author, Teresa Douglas.
  • WFH workers can also condition their family to knock first before entering the home office during work hours or keep the office door locked. According to Douglas, her children know that if the door is closed, they can knock once. If she doesn't respond, it means she's in a meeting.
  • Patrick A. Coleman, parenting editor at "Fatherly" and WFH dad, notes that this physical barrier (the closed door) helps remind both the family and the WFH worker of the difference between work time and playtime/family time.
  • For WFH workers that don't have a separate home office space, a baby gate helps keep small children away from office equipment and important documents.

Sticking to a Regular Schedule & Communicating Clear Expectations

  • One of the biggest challenges of working from home is sticking to a regular routine, but doing so is essential for productivity and work/life balance. Having a set schedule also helps condition families to known and respect boundaries.
  • WFH workers need to communicate clearly with their partner and/or children about their schedule, including when they are available to spend time with the family and when they are working and should not be disturbed.
  • Because young children naturally have difficulty understanding the work world, WFH parents benefit from gently explaining the importance of working hard and earning money to take care of the family.
  • Setting clear guidelines and expectations with the family helps everyone better experience the benefits of the work-from-home arrangement.
  • WFH workers might also consider sharing their work schedule with their partner via an online calendar or app, so their partner knows about important meeting times and deadlines, as well as when they have breaks or slower times in their schedule.

Utilizing Nap/Sleep Times

  • In many cases, WFH workers have flexible schedules and can choose to work around the family schedule rather than condition the family to work around theirs. They can work when it is most productive or convenient for them—such as when kids are in school during the day.
  • For remote workers with younger children, nap time can be one way to get some quiet, uninterrupted work time. By conditioning children to take a nap during peak work times, such as during a daily conference call, WFH workers can help ensure productivity during set times.
  • Likewise, WFH workers with young children and flexible work schedules might also consider establishing an earlier bedtime for their child(ren), which frees up several hours in the evening for uninterrupted work.

Getting In-Home Child Care

  • Some WFH workers choose to hire child care even when they are working from home, so that they are free to fully concentrate on business.
  • Even a part-time babysitter during peak work hours (such as 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.) allows WFH workers to tackle their most important work tasks or video calls without interruption.
  • According to Douglas, there is no shame in hiring in-house child care as a WFH worker, and for those who can afford it, hiring care will minimize stress.
  • For WFH parents who can't afford care, trading child care services with other WFH parents is another creative option.
Sources
Sources

From Part 02