It’s been nearly eight months since the COVID-19 pandemic started impacting the U.S. and plunged many employees into a prolonged period of remote work. Like anything, there are pros and cons to working remotely, but the sudden transition brought on by the pandemic made the adjustment difficult for many employees and companies.
Without in-person interaction, company culture becomes more important than ever. Because most of our team at Stoneside works in the field or from home and positive company culture is a pillar of the way we conduct ourselves, we commissioned this study to determine how we, and other companies, can continue to build a strong company that gives a five-star experience to our employees.
We surveyed 1,000 people currently working from home about what the experience has been like throughout the pandemic: How relationships with co-workers have been impacted; what company-sponsored activities and initiatives help keep morale high; and how company culture impacts employees’ lives outside the workplace. Read on to find out what we learned.
Employees, on the whole, felt good about their company’s culture prior to the pandemic, with 77.7% saying they would characterize the culture as positive. However, COVID-19 definitely had an impact, particularly depending on what people’s work situation was before COVID-19 came on the scene.
People who primarily worked in person prior to the pandemic were over three times more likely than those who were already working remotely to say company culture was worse since the health crisis began. Meanwhile, nearly 92% of people already accustomed to remote work said company culture had either stayed the same or gotten better. The pandemic likely didn’t shake up their work routine as much as for the people who had to adjust to working from home full time.
The sense of connection employees feel with co-workers and managers also experienced some shifts in 2020. While a majority of people reported feeling the same level of connectedness to their co-workers and managers (51.5% and 46% respectively), there were people who experienced negative and positive variations.
Over 1 in 4 people reported feeling less connected to their co-workers, and 30.1% of people said the same of their manager. Transitioning to less face time with colleagues can cause bonds and friendships formed in the office to drop off or fade. But feeling connected to co-workers can have a positive impact on productivity and employee happiness.
To further explore the impact of remote work on employee connection, we asked respondents about how their interactions have changed with their colleagues throughout the pandemic.
Nearly 56% of people said that the pandemic had strained their relationships with their co-workers. Given the amount of stress the pandemic has brought on for many, it’s not a stretch to think it could have impacted even the best working relationships.
The amount of socializing people are engaging in with their co-workers while working remotely could also be a factor. Nearly 43% of people who didn’t work remotely prior to the pandemic said they’re interacting with their co-workers less than before COVID-19. Interestingly, people who had already worked remotely actually said they were interacting with co-workers more since the pandemic. This could indicate that employees who have already built up communication systems and habits while remote might be better equipped to maintain and further build those connections in a crisis.
Employees were asked what perks, resources, and initiatives their employer had offered during the pandemic to help maintain company culture and make the transition to remote work easier.
Nearly 39% of people said their employer offered mental health resources during the pandemic. Given the wide-ranging impacts of the health crisis, mental health has been a major concern. Unemployment stress and financial impacts put a strain on large swaths of the economy, and school closures had parents in a position of having to try to work while also caring for their kids and coordinating virtual learning.
Nearly 36% of people said they’d received a work-from-home stipend or other office supplies since the onset of the pandemic, and 33.1% of people said wellness programs had been offered.
Virtual socializing events didn’t seem to be widely adopted with only 31.8% reporting their company offering virtual happy hours, 29.7% with virtual coffee chats, and 24.8% with virtual trivia or games.
Given the new prevalence of remote work, the line between work and personal time is more blurred than ever. We wanted to see how company culture and the shifting work paradigm has impacted people outside of work hours.
People reporting their company culture as worse since the pandemic began were twice as likely as people whose company cultures had remained the same or gotten better to report poor sleep and poor mental health amid the pandemic. Mental health and sleep go hand in hand, with each often impacting the other.
Many companies have also had to face the tough reality of furloughs and layoffs during the pandemic. Employees we surveyed were asked if either of these had taken place at their company without impacting them. We found that employees who worked at companies that had experienced furloughs or layoffs were much more likely than those who hadn’t to experience high stress during the pandemic.
When looking at the company culture’s impact on job satisfaction and productivity during the pandemic, sentiment was mixed – even accounting for whether employees were new to remote work or not. A plurality of people reported a positive impact on both job satisfaction and productivity (42.3% and 42.6%, respectively). But around a third of people reported negative impacts as well.
The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically shifted the nature of work for many, and company culture needs to evolve along with it. We found that culture shifts varied depending on whether employees were remote prior to the pandemic and that company offerings like mental health resources, work-from-home stipends, and wellness programs are effective in helping employees feel supported and connected to their company.
At Stoneside Blinds & Shades, we believe great company culture is critical to our success. Our mission is, "to deliver a five-star experience to our teammates, clients, partners, and community". We believe we must take care of our team members first, so they have the resources to deliver a five-star experience to our clients, partners, and community. To learn more about Stoneside Blinds and Shades and how we became #1 in America based on customer reviews, visit us at Stoneside.com.
We surveyed 1,000 people who reported currently being employed and working from home. Respondents were 43.1% women and 56.9% men. One respondent chose not to disclose their gender. The average age of respondents was 38 with a standard deviation of 11.6.
Respondents were asked to report what their typical work situation was prior to working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. They were given the following options:
In our final visualization of the data, the latter two options were excluded due to lower sample sizes for those selections.
When asked about what benefits and activities their employer has offered during the pandemic to foster company culture, respondents were instructed to select all options that applied to them. Therefore, percentages for this data won’t add to 100.
Respondents were asked to report whether major staffing changes, such as furloughs and layoffs, had taken place at their company (though the people surveyed were currently employed and therefore their employment status not directly impacted).
When reporting their stress level throughout the pandemic, respondents were given the following options:
In our final visualization of the data, we combined these into the following groups: low, average, and high.
When reporting the type of impact company culture has had on their job satisfaction and productivity during the pandemic, people were given the following options:
In our final visualization of the data, we grouped these into the following: negative impact, no impact, and positive impact.
The data we are presenting rely on self-report. There are many issues with self-reported data. These issues include, but are not limited to, the following: selective memory, telescoping, attribution, and exaggeration.
The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shift to remote work has placed a lot of pressure on workplace culture. If someone you know would benefit from the information presented here, you are free to share for any noncommercial reuse. We only ask that you link back here so the full project and its methodology can be viewed. This also gives credit to our hardworking contributors, who make this work possible.