Disconnection from colleagues key challenge of working remotely: survey

Three-quarters (74 per cent) of Canadian employees who are working remotely said their manager has clearly communicated their expectations around remote work, according to a new survey conducted by Angus Reid on behalf of ADP Canada Co.

However, the survey, which polled 500 remote-working Canadians, found respondents are split on how they feel about the “new normal” and highlighted some of the key challenges of working remotely.

The most common challenge, cited by 57 per cent of respondents, was not feeling connected to colleagues. This was followed by difficulty staying focused because of too many distractions, which was particularly common among younger respondents, with 51 per cent of those aged 18 to 34 reporting it as a challenge.

Read: 85% of Canadian workers want option to keep working from home after coronavirus: survey

While 38 per cent of survey respondents said their stress levels have remained the same, 34 per cent said their stress has increased and 28 per cent said it has decreased. Women were more likely to feel more stressed, with 38 per cent of women citing an increase in stress levels, compared to only 29 per cent of men.

These results also differed across the country. Employees in Saskatchewan and Manitoba reported the highest increase of stress due to working remotely — a full 20 per cent more than the national average (54 per cent compared to 34 per cent).

The survey also found about a quarter of remote workers said they’re having difficulty taking breaks because they’re too busy (27 per cent) and reported struggling with managing their mental health (24 per cent).

As well, 22 per cent said they’re having trouble managing their physical health and wellness. This response was especially common in Atlantic Canada, where 34 per cent of survey respondents said this was a key challenge. For those with children at home, 16 per cent said they’re finding it difficult to balance childcare and work.

Read: Remote working, distributed workforces could be part of new normal post-coronavirus

Nearly a fifth (18 per cent) of respondents reported facing no challenges working remotely.

“The rapid shift to remote work has caused some challenges for Canadian employees, namely, staying connected with their fellow colleagues and teams,” said Heather Haslam, vice-president of marketing at ADP Canada, in a press release. “Though most managers have communicated clear expectations around remote work, it’s important for teams to feel connected and supported.

“Management can look to adopt collaboration tools and technology to further support team communication and workflow. In addition, hosting virtual team social meetings or setting up more frequent touch points with team members can help everyone stay connected.”

Read: Twitter to allow employees to work from home ‘forever’