For those, who can’t stick to the end of this article, the answer is: both. The results of our internal survey at Evolvice show that it highly depends on, first, whom you ask, and, second, which aspects you look at in detail.
There are industries and companies where, for many years, employees have occasionally or regularly worked from home without it affecting work results or productivity.
In software development, teams are usually composed of developers, testers, designers, and project managers working in different countries or at different locations within a company. Distributed teams are the rule rather than the exception. And if an expert is needed for a project who cannot be found at the company’s primarily location, companies look for a suitable employee elsewhere or employ a freelancer. And that’s where remote work begins.
Evolvice is no exception! Our previous experience with collaboration tools and methods like Jira, Confluence, Microsoft Teams, Kanban and Scrum came in handy for organizing our projects and ourselves while shifting to fully remote working mode. Evolvice employees don’t necessarily have to work at one of our development centers, but now more than ever can choose to work from home.
But what happens when a global pandemic turns occasional remote work into permanent mode for everyone. And what if no one goes to the office anymore? If there is no longer a core team sitting in the company offices and everyone works independently?
In spring of 2020 Covid-19 restrictions hit Evolvice at all our locations in Ukraine, Egypt and Germany. However, as an outsourcing company with almost 10 years of experience in remote hiring and collaborating with clients and partners both in person and online, we reacted immediately and, surely, with everyone’s safety in mind, asked our employees to work from home. Even though we were already accustomed to and utilizing video conferences on a daily basis, it initially still was a major shift for everyone, but quick adaptation was a must!
At the end of 2020, we’ve conducted an internal survey to find out how satisfied employees at Evolvice are with working from home, what are their experiences during this time, and how they envision their work in a post-pandemic time.
Working before and during the Covid-19 pandemic
Most of the Evolvice employees in our nearshore locations find that working from home saves a lot of time, especially when they’re commuting. Prior to the pandemic, nearly 60% worked either never or less than once a month from home. About 14% worked from home at least once a month and about 7% worked from home at least once a week.
Currently though 45% of Evolvice employees don’t go to the office at all. Only about 7% go to the office at least once a month and 25% less than once a month.
Working from office vs. working from home
Many of our colleagues at Evolvice enjoy flexibility, they have when working from home. This includes the possibility to organize themselves and to work according to a schedule that suits them. The majority finds working at home more relaxing, as they can work in a more concentrated manner and there are fewer distractions. (Just imagine all of that fuss in a lively office during the “rush hour”)
Of course, there are not only positive experiences. Some Evolvice employees state that the proximity to their families makes concentrated work impossible, talking about long term changes, or that homework interrupts their daily work routine. Others often lack a clear distinction between work and spare time.
“Working from home there is no need for commuting. I have everything I need, and more flexibility in switching between work and private issues.”
Surprisingly, disadvantages of working from home often become advantages of working from office. Above all, the personal communication with colleagues and work within the team is perceived as a strong positive factor. In addition, the spatial separation between the areas of work and private life makes concentrated work possible.
In contrast, some employees find it more difficult to focus in the office. This is because the social contacts in the team can create a restless working atmosphere, which is cited as a negative factor for working in the office.
Finally, time is also an important factor in the assessment: the time loss for commuting to and from the office in such megapolises as Kyiv or Cairo is more in favor of working from a home office.
“When working in the office, you can feel the flow of the team and find common solutions fast in case of problems. There is open communication in the office.”
Our conclusion: There are just as many advantages as disadvantages to both work modes. Subjective feelings and perceptions vary greatly from employee to employee. For example, within one work mode, the same factors are viewed positively by one employee and negatively by another.
So what is better?
By now, work from home is a new normal at Evolvice. Any fears that one is less productive due to possible distractions or the relaxed environment at home cannot be confirmed either in self-assessment nor in the assessment by project managers, partners, or clients. Three-quarters of respondents say they are just as productive or even more productive when working from home than when working from the office.
Is fully remote work the future of Evolvice?
This turns the previous working world characterized exclusivelly by office work upside down. In many companies, working from home before pandemic was considered the exception or was not intended at all. For the workplace of the future other companies as well as Evolvice have to consider a lot of aspects to adopt the new style of work and life in general. Based on the results of the survey, we are sure that a lot of employees enjoy the freedom to choose where they’d like to work from in the future, so that the respective advantages are also used in the best possible way.
How can we compensate for a lack of social contact?
At Evolvice working remotely in virtual teams is not just a necessity, it’s a work style of a nearshore outsourcing company. Nevertheless, lack of social contact, face-to-face collaboration as well as internal company events is still a downside of pandemic times.
To promote social interaction and healthy way of life, we offer weekly workout sessions and yoga classes. Also, our English and German language courses now take place online, and any Evolvice employee from any location can join in. These online activities are frequently attended by our employees and are rated as a very positive aspect of corporate life.
Exchanging information regularly and staying in touch is important, especially when you don’t meet in person. With an open communication about the current situation and the effects of the pandemic, we’re trying to involve and inform our employees during the current challenging times. Monthly company meetings, internal photo challenges, COVID protection advise and best practices reshare do help to keep up the awareness, introduce newcomers, express concern about the wellbeing of the employees and their families and simply stay on the same page. Moreover, even the results of the survey show that this strategy is working. No one complained about not being informed at all. More than half of the employees at Evolvice feel very well informed about the current situation and changes in the company.
Stay healthy and optimistic about the future!
For sure the global pandemic shifted our understanding of normal and acceptable, but life at Evolvice and life in general goes on. Over the past year, we have learned to deal with new situations and have adapted to changes.
It’s hard to say how long the pandemic will last and what professional life will be like afterwards. Evolvice GmbH remains open for new things and for sure, we will not switch back to regular office mode. Instead, we try to establish a mixed mode of work, so that people still have benefits of working remotely, but at the same time have possibility to come to office, socialize, work together. We’d also like to introduce themed office weeks. The goal is to gather people that work with the same technology or in the same domain, so that they could exchange experience, have workshops, and… Well.. have some human contact. Each week will be dedicated to some topic: .Net, QA, Drupal, Java etc. We can even use Company weeks to have general meetings with everyone in the office, but that is for sure not within current quarantine restrictions.
And even though, both work from home and from the office have its pros and cons, you should make the most out of it for yourself and stay healthy and optimistic about the future!