Do you ever wonder how remote work policies are enacted and later adopted? Do you think about how best practices for remote workers and remote employers are established? Experts in the field of human resources and psychology conduct rearch and work surveys to inform policy makers, employers, employees and the general public.
Would you like to use your remote work experience to shape the future? Remote work has revolutionized the concept of work. Remote work has caused a tectonic shift in workplace dynamics. Not to go unnoticed, industrial psychologists (I/O) have been called upon to study the attitudes of remote workers and the perceptions of those aspiring to work remotely.
Why? Because employers worldwide are interested in meeting the demands of employees who would like to work remotely while also maintaining productivity and business continuity. Remote workers are also interested in adhering to remote work guidelines and policies that eliminate many of the challenges that remote work brings.
How are the needs of both groups: the remote employer and the remote worker met? Utilizing the expertise of an Industrial Psychologists. The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology describes this area psychology that involves the understanding human behavior in the workplace and designing programs based on scientific principles to help organizations improve productivity, employee morale and organizational effectiveness. An added bonus to implementing a research-based program is increased remote worker job satisfaction and improved quality of life (QOL).
The remote work benefit offered by employers to their top producing employees helps the employer to retain high performers. Further, the option to work remotely and/or work from home full-time or on a hybrid work schedule can be used as an enticement to attract, poach top talent from competing firms.
The flexibility offered through the option to work remotely has a significant impact on worker retention and attrition. These two metrics are key aspects of business continuity, smooth operations and profitability. Companies will always seek to attract and retrain top talent. McKinsey, the top consulting firm completed a worker analysis survey from April 2021 to April 2022 to look at the reasons employees use for quitting jobs that they held previously. Please see the image below.
In summary, the top five reasons for quitting were:
- Lack of career advancement, development and promotions,
- Leaders who failed to motivate their workforce,
- Unrealistic work expectations, and
- Lack of work flexibility.
There are other research studies that sought to explain why the flexibility offered by remote work and hybrid work alternatives were so desired by the workforce. Some of the prevailing remote work research (appearing in the Journal of Applied Psychology), on the attitudes of remote workers show that remote workers where enthralled by the low or no commute time, added flexibility, and the ability to re-structure their work day and tasks. One downside however, was the encroachment by the company upon the personal boundaries of their employees working remotely.
So in spite of the promises that remote work holds, some challenges can be daunting without targeted employer supports. The American Psychological Association) conducted research to find that the associated challenges related to remote work can be mitigated by employers. They involve:
- Assistance with home office set up,
- Establishment of set times for meetings and video conferences, and
- Maintenance of frequent check ins with peers and work colleagues.
That said, the remote work phenomenon, while not entirely new, is still in its relative infancy stages of global adoption. Much research still needs to be undertaken so that a repository of best practices can be developed and made accessible to remote employers and remotely working employees.
Without on the ground research of those impacted on the front lines, unspoken challenges can go unnoticed and lead to silent quitting, low productivity, poor job satisfaction and low quality of life.
It is akin to the earlier difficulties associated with expatriate global work that can only be discovered when third party researchers, think tanks, and university affiliated groups anonymize the respondents and aggregate the data obtained from the surveys.
No one wants to be considered a disaffected employee. An aeon ago executive expatriates working overseas and away from their native country had to find innovative ways to acculturate and assimilate into their host country, maintain contact with the home office at headquarters (with shoddy broadband and mobile services, low access to video conferencing tools, and scrappy internet services), learn a new language (on the ground), help their accompanying partner and family adapt to their new surroundings and make new friends.
These expatriate executives had to manage these challenges all the while endeavoring to meet corporate goals and targets. Back in the day, I conducted research in this area to raise the awareness of the challenges associated with expatriate working conditions, relocation, family and life balance and cultural acclimitation. My research was undertaken to identify the stressors related to an overseas assignment and find ways in which global conglomerates could address those issues thereby protecting their expatriate investment. All of this was was done to reduce the early withdrawal from an overseas assignment (attrition).
An I/O Psychologist, Taylor Clements is conducting similar research (but with the focus of remote work) for completion of his doctorate. We connected with Taylor and asked him to share with his work and to offer the support of SearchRemotely.com
Q. Hi Taylor, please introduce yourself, where you attend school and your major for example.
A. I am a PhD student attending Florida International University (FIU) for a degree in Industrial-Organizational Psychology. This growing field uniquely meshes the psychological approach with the business world. My area in this field focuses on the employee experience.
SearchRemotely Q. Tell us about your research. What is the purpose of the survey?
A. My research examines the job attitudes of remote and hybrid workers as well as their feelings of job autonomy and work-life balance. The purpose is to better understand the process at play where remote work can be an effective work arrangement to bring benefits to both employees and their employers.
Search Remotely Q. Why did you choose this survey topic?
A. I am a proponent of remote work. I wanted to conduct my graduate research to further our knowledge of how this affects employees.
Search Remotely Q. How do you hope to help remote workers and or remote employers?
A. This research aims to understand the factors and mechanisms that can make the remote work experience mutually beneficial for employees and employers alike. This might aid employers in how they handle the currently controversial topic of remote work vs. returning to the office after the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, remote workers can lend their voice to inform best practices for how employers create policies.
Search Remotely Q. What can our readers do to help you?
A. Readers can help by participating in this research. They must be 18 years or older, employed full-time, and work remotely at least part of the time. To clarify, though full-time employment is required, they do not have to work remotely 100% of the time. They could be hybrid workers (as little as a few hours a week remote would still qualify).
Search Remotely Q. Are you looking for participants from particular countries or is your research a global initiative?
A. I am not confining my research to any particular country.
Search Remotely Q. When is the deadline?
A. Data collection will close at the end of August 2022. Remote workers can participate by clicking the link on the FIU image appearing at the beginning of this article.
Search Remotely Q. When will your results be finalized?
A. Results will be finalized and submitted to FIU as part of my degree requirements by the end of 2022. I am happy to share my key findings with you.