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How Workers Feel About Productivity, Meetings That Should Be Emails

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The coronavirus pandemic fundamentally changed the way people work, forcing many to stay home and increase their reliance on technology to accomplish simple tasks.

But that increased use of technology has led to productivity concerns, according to a new study from Fusion Connect — an Atlanta-based integrated cloud solutions provider — that looks at how workers feel about their environments.

Attempts to try to keep workers happy — as well as avoid impacts from the Great Resignation — can add a layer of complication to the mix, which can be especially harmful to small businesses.

Productivity problems for the work-from-home crowd

Almost a third of office workers say dealing with technology issues related to collaborating with others virtually has had a negative impact on their productivity.

It’s not surprising, though, especially when you consider how unprepared so many companies were for the demands of a pandemic. Zoom, for example, became a staple for many workers, but the company paid an $85 million settlement due to privacy issues (including meeting disruptions) at the beginning of the pandemic.

Fully remote (39%) and hybrid workers (38%) — who work at least partially from home — are significantly more likely to report a negative impact on productivity than those working fully on-site (23%). That could dent the bottom line of companies looking to stay remote as the pandemic continues, forcing smaller enterprises to take out business loans to keep up with the ever-changing landscape.

However, this doesn’t mean working from home is the worst option — in fact, it may be a necessity for some. For companies willing and able to go fully remote, it could cut down on costs associated with office-based work environments (like space rentals and on-site meals and snacks). And there are downsides to the other work arrangements, too.

So, about that meeting …

Think about how often you’ve entered a meeting and thought, “This could have been an email”? You aren’t the only one: Nearly three-quarters of office workers say most work meetings can easily be handled through a collaborative tool — or a simple email — instead.

So even with the apparent productivity hit that collaborative tools can pose, they may still be preferable to meetings. That could point to a general shift in how people approach their work experiences — and what they’re willing to put up with as the pandemic continues.

Another interesting finding: 84% of workers use more than one communication channel for work, with 18% employing five or more. This could prove difficult for workers, forcing them to juggle multiple communication methods. It also echoes the overall difficulty companies have had in adjusting to the demands of the pandemic — an issue that still seems to be present.

And for those companies that chose to split the difference, letting workers do some remote and in-office work could be even more tumultuous. In fact, about a third of hybrid workers feel they work more hours than their non-hybrid peers.

This, combined with the hybrid worker productivity issue, could mean that employers may have to commit to either remote or in-office work to help employers avoid these compounded issues. Whether companies will do this, however, remains to be seen.

Methodology: Fusion Connect commissioned The Harris Poll to conduct an online survey of more than 800 U.S. office workers ages 18 and older, fielded from Feb. 17-22, 2022.