How 5,500 End-Users Feel About Remote Work, Latest Survey Results

HappySignals gives you a sneak peek into over 5000 employee responses of end-users Remote Work Experiences.

Due to recent events, remote working has become the forefront challenge organisations are having to face. For many, this has brought on new experiences, especially for the end-user who may have never worked remotely before.

A call for IT Service Desks to help has never been more needed than now, due to the new wave of remote workers needing guidance and advice through these troubled times, and to lead them on the road to a positive Remote Work Experience.

There is an urgent need for companies to have visibility on how remote working tools and practices are performing, in order to support employees with this adaption to a new way of working.

This article and on-demand webinar episode has been made in order to bring to you quickly the first indicators of what seems to be the matter with Remote Working.

Watch the full episode on the findings below:

What's being said about Remote Work?

In September 2019, a study was made into remote work by OwlLabs. This research study was conducted in the USA and surveyed 1,202 full-time workers between the ages of 22 and 65.

From this survey population group, 62% of people worked remotely at any frequency. This leads well to the quote that "Remote work isn't the future - it's the present" - OwlLabs. 

Another interesting study that we have found is from Jaxenter. They found that 71% of remote workers say that they are happy with their job compared to 55% of onsite workers. 

An interesting thing to also consider here is that both of these studies have been conducted before the pandemic outbreak. This suggests that remote working tools should be accessible and utilized as many people find remote working more productive than working onsite.

How Did We Collect Our Data?

The data collected has been from our Happiness Score™ Report. However, these current findings are just a sneak peak into what has happened over the last 8 days. The whole report will be published in Q2.

We gathered this data by adding an extra survey question after end-users reply about their service experiences. This question asks how if the person is currently working remotely, how happy is the person with remote working tools, followed up by different factors to identify the reason for their experience.

Over the first 8 days, 28 enterprises joined, leading to 5,567 responses from 80 different countries. 

Happiness Score™ Remote Work Experience

We found that across our customer base there has been an increase of 25-30% more tickets overall. However, the average score of the IT Remote Work Experience was +36. This actually means that there has been 4 times the amount of people rating the service they received either with a 9 or 10 compared to people rating their experience with anything from 7 and below.

This means that even though people may have had more issues and problems with remote work, they are generally happier with the IT service they are receiving. This could also mean end-users also more content with working from home than onsite.

What are the Biggest Complaints From End-Users?

One of the biggest complaints that end-users are having is in relation to VPNs, for example "my VPN doesn't work", "my VPN is too slow", "I can't connect through VPN". This can be due to the increased usage and connectivity of companies VPNs due to the increase in remote working. One company we spoke to said they had to increase their VPN capacity by 6 times in order to maintain the situation.

Our recommendation at HappySignals is to ditch the VPN and migrate across to cloud services. For example, HappySignals being a smaller company, we use two-factor authenticators to login to different accounts, creating quick and easy access to information.

However, if you still need to use VPN in your organisation, then establishing when a VPN should be used is highly important and can boost your end-users productivity.

Another main problem as well, of course, was related to devices. This is due to a lot of people having to now work from a portable device such as a laptop, instead of their desktop computer or extra screen they may be used to working on in the office. As well as this, the accessories that may of accompanied this hardware, such as mouses and keyboards were also a recurring negative topic.

Not only were there hardware problems, but there were also new software problems. End-users have now had to start using new software or downloading new software for their devices. But the problems we keep seeing is that they do not have the access to install applications themselves, therefore needing IT support or permission to do so.

Putting work and technology to one side, people appear to be adjusting to remote working and enjoy the freedom and space that this style of working offers. However, social distancing can become an issue. Some people really need the social interaction that an office offers.

In order to overcome this, we have started having a 'virtual coffee session' everyday at 15:30. This essentially mimics the conversations that may of been held in the office or at the coffee machine, and allows people to interact and not feel so isolated.

Work on Culture. Get the Best Results.

Remote work shouldn't be feared and should be embedded in the culture of a company. Culture is the keyword here, as you are going to need to develop a culture that allows and accepts remote work.

This can be anything from developing new processes, to how to arrange meetings so everyone is active, to understanding whose network connection is better than others. A term that we believe is now more important than ever is "Remote First". This is just the same as "Mobile First" where everything needs to be built and designed for mobile devices before anything else can be developed. 

"Remote First" means that company practices and processes are built to work remotely first before they are made to work within the office. If this is done, then when people do go to work remotely they will be able to do this with ease.

Developing these company cultural norms and values can lead to a happy and positive employee experience.

Pasi Nikkanen: Welcome to HappyToday podcast. This is a podcast for those who want to improve service experience of internal services. If you use ServiceNow or on the enterprise service management system, then this is for you.

Pasi Nikkanen: Welcome to this episode of HappyToday. Today's topics is Remote Work Experience, and this is related to our happiness score, and this is a sneak peek. So really based on the 5,500 responses. Topics of today, what we're going to talk about is a little bit about the studies about remote work itself, the current situation we are today, and then how was the data gathered, what we have gathered, and then we'll go into data review, and also a little bit of discussion on that. But maybe first, so my name is Pasi Nikkanen. I'm the Chief Product Officer at HappySignals, and joining me today is our CEO, Sami Kallio. Sami, say hi.

Sami Kallio: Hi everybody.

Pasi Nikkanen: All right. And quickly, for people who don't know, so what is happiness score? So it's a benchmark that we are gathering for service management, but mainly also from IT. And this remote work it a first thing outside of service management. You can subscribe to quarterly updates so you get always up to date. You can find it on our website. But yeah, first, little bit on some studies about remote work. So I found couple of studies, one from [Owl Labs 00:00:01:37] saying that remote work isn't the future of work, it's the present. And this was actually done in September 2019. I think the study itself, it's really good to go through to understand how people feel about remote work. And I think the title of the study, it couldn't be more present. So yeah.

Another good study that we found was from Jaxenter, which actually said that 71% of remote workers say that they are happy with their job compared to 55% of onsite workers. And again, this is October, so before the current situation. So I think remote work has been a topic which is kind of dividing companies a bit. Is it good? Is it bad? How do we actually make sure that people are working when they are at home? And all that stuff. And there have been these studies saying that people actually are quite productive when they are there. And I guess some of you also found a quick status from our research about the happiness.

Sami Kallio: Yeah and kind of the overall point of this slide is that even though, of course, the situation now is terrible and the change here is very fast, but kind of we feel that there are also positive things that we might together learn during this. Now we are just forced to do it in a very, very, very short term. Still that survey on the right side is really the first thing that we will today talk about the results that we have gotten from those 5,500 people.

There are 3.6 times more people that are thinking and saying that working from home is more efficient than working from office. So we are asking for people who are loving the working mode. They are saying that working at home works, and one factor there is that it is more efficient than from the office. On the other hand, if they are unsatisfied, we are also having a factor that working out of the offices is inefficient, but there are much, much less people selecting that as there are people who are selecting that we are very efficient when we work home. So kind of let's see what happens. But of course the situation is terrible, but maybe this will be the change that will stay a longer time.

Pasi Nikkanen: So maybe about the current situation. So why did we actually start to tackle this? So I guess it's because now remote working in the past few weeks, because of the circumstances actually really, really drastically change.

Sami Kallio: Yeah. I know these are numbers from the overall IT incident benchmark that we are having. So now during the last week, so after the mid March, there is now 25 to 35 percentage more tickets overall in our customer base. And that means, of course, that there was no additional people in Service Desk before this, so there is not more people handling those tickets. But simultaneous, even though that is the situation that there is so much more, the happiness score that we are measuring is going up. So I have to say that the whole industry, and you guys, you are doing extremely well compared to a situation where we are now.

Of course, many of the people are now understanding that IT is in a big change and you are struggling with the resources, and now the agents are working from home and everything like that. So they understand a bit more. But still, and during this crisis, the happiness of end-users to IT support is bigger than it was before. Not maybe expecting this to be the case in one month time, but at least now they are more happy to it.

Pasi Nikkanen: Yeah. All right, then a little bit on how this much data was gathered. So actually what we created to our product was that there's an extra survey after the end-users are kind of replying to the service experience thing. So we are kind of asking that if you are working remotely, how happy are you with remote working tools? And then we have a NPS type scoring, and we have these factors to identify the reasons. And what we have gathered so far, so this was actually in the morning, so in 8 days 28 enterprise is joined this survey. We've got 5,500 responses. I think Sami's just checked that currently it's about 7,000 responses, and they from more than 80 countries, and there's more than 10,000 of these factors selected. So a lot of data in a short time. And today we'll look at the results, a little bit of how does it look like.

Sami Kallio: And of course the point of all this webinar, it is to help the whole industry, our customers and everybody to understand where to locate our resources now, when there is more and more need of focus, and being able to help these people. And of course after this, just feel free to contact us and ask questions and ask something. If you need some more data, maybe we have it. So be active and use us to help you guys.

Pasi Nikkanen: Yeah, that was the reason why we actually wanted to put this really fast, so that we can already give you the first indicators of what seems to matter in the Remote Work Experience. We feel that our whole goal is to make people more happier and more productive, so sharing this kind of information is how we roll, I would say. All right Sami, then let's get to the results. I think that's what people are here waiting for. So how does the overall scores look like?

Sami Kallio: So on the right side, in the light pink, we the IT incidents and IT requests, those kinds of normal things what we measure. On the middle here, 36 is the average score of the IT Remote Work Experience. And in these circumstances, I would say that is quite high. That means, in fact, that there is four times more people rating the service with 9 and 10 than there is people rating it less than 7. So kind of give you kind of a predictional, most of the people, to get that high score, are satisfied. And that's quite good situation now in this first week, or two weeks time. And this score is discussed, as most of you know, it is calculated in same way that net promoter score calculator score. So the percental amount of 9 and 10 minus the percental amount of less than 7. So that's why I said there is four times more positive thinking people than there is negative thinking people. So that's not a bad score. I would say that.

Pasi Nikkanen: I agree. So then let's go to say what people are then saying? And I think we pretty quickly identified the number one issue, and if I click here, you're going to see that it's about VPN drops all the time, VPN is slow. My VPN doesn't work. VPN connection is overloaded. I had to take my PC at home and I cannot access VPN. If it is difficult to get into VPN. So really VPN. So what do you, Sami, say about VPN?

Sami Kallio: Yeah, I think that was quite clear, and we had one discussion with one customer who said that they had to get six times more VPN capacity to be used now in this situation than they used to have before. So enormous pressure on the VPN services, and kind of what we have been discussing with positivity is that happily the kind of moving to cloud has been going on, so that is making things much easier.

Pasi Nikkanen: Yeah, exactly. And I think with the VPN as well, it's kind of there were some recommendations from Gartner saying that maybe you should turn off the video while you are currently using the VPN. It's kind of like a workaround for the moment so that you don't crash all the systems, but in a way it does take a lot from the engagement of remote working if you don't see the video as well. But then kind of what highlights what you just said was the one comment saying that the person who gave a 10, like I'm really happy, simply blown away how well this is working. Before moving to the cloud we would have been so much less efficient.

So really highlighting, for us, both Sami and myself worked with big organizations, have used VPNs. Nowadays, of course, when we started a smaller company we are using two factor authentications. So we are using cloud services, so we have totally forgotten all about VPNs. For us, it's always been the same. Are we working from home or are we working at the office? So kind of thinking of this thing that remote work is just that you are working somewhere with your laptop. It doesn't matter what the physical space is, where you're kind of sitting at. And kind of on that, interesting thing on this comment was also that I wasn't allowed to bring equipment home.

Sami Kallio: But I think the whole overall VPN situation is also that the normal end-users, they don't understand when VPN is needed and when it's not needed. They are balancing on I can access this application but I can't do this. Why is that? And not having kind of a clear picture of which applications really need VPN and which are able even to be used outside of it. So I think that's kind of questions there are.

Pasi Nikkanen: Yeah, it is true. I've also heard this from customers saying that some say that, "Hey, the hack is actually that you just turn off the VPN when you go to this team's meeting, and then when you need to do this, then you actually turn it on again." But it's a hassle. So to be honest, at least I feel personally they did say it's kind of a legacy still that is dragging us along. And maybe now this moment, when people are in big masses forced to work from home, it kind of just highlights the vulnerability in the VPN area. All right. But then that wasn't all. So what else people said. So were lot of, of course, device problems. So people are complaining, for example, that now they start to have to work with the laptop. So maybe they have used at their office a desktop computer or a big screen that you attach. You have a docking station with all the keyboard and mouse. So that was at least a common theme, or how did you, Sami, say it?

Sami Kallio: Yeah, the screens, it was maybe even a dominating thing you hear when we talk about devices, but also not having headsets and not having keyboard at home, and so on. So I would kind of think that they are kind of all related to the workspace where I am. And of all things you are ... I have everything that I had in the office now in my kitchen, so making things easy to work in a about same way that before. And these are kinds of things that, if you now go to LinkedIn, or even go to Facebook, everybody's sending pictures about what is their set up at home, where it is, and now they have their favorite coffee cup every time you start work, whatever. But I think this is something that is the first two weeks kind of stuff that people are making things work here.

Pasi Nikkanen: Cool. Then another thing is that, of course, if you need to install some other software and you don't have the access rights. So this of course is really to IT policies, when people are not allowed to install applications themselves. Of course, this creates a lot of work for the idea support. But the really interesting one was not thinking always about your own connections, but your colleagues' connection.

So kind of pointing out there's something that we were discussing with Sami, and then we actually saw a real feedback on this topic. So sometimes the screen of the presenter freezes. So actually just one person having a bad connection at home kind of creates a bad experience for everybody joining that meeting. Maybe something that this is not always so understood. But then there were a lot of positive things. Of course the social distancing, so 1% that I really like remote working, but I miss my colleagues. So I think not underestimating these soft values. And this is probably something that we in HappySignals, we have kind of started a virtual coffee session every afternoon where everybody pops up and we can just talk whatever, so that we see our faces and everybody's in the same place together. But yeah.

Sami Kallio: And I would say this area of the social distancing, that will be the challenging part in the coming weeks.

Pasi Nikkanen: Yes. Kind of, I think, because it really depends on the person. Some persons just really need that social connection. And now, when you are maybe even a social distance after work as well, you can't meet your friends physically or whatever. Then it will probably be a more underlying issue. But then people were also saying that they are more productive. Of course, some people are not because then the schools might be closed, so they have the kids running at home. But on the other hand, sometimes you are able to focus more when you don't have these impromptu drop-ins and interruptions. So it's not all bad. So I think that's what we wanted to say here as well.

Sami Kallio: Yeah.

Pasi Nikkanen: But okay, Sami, let's move forward and I'll give you the step. So next are these factors. So first, people who selected zero to six, so they were not really happy with the service. So what did these factors tell you?

Sami Kallio: Yeah, so when you're looking at this, the total amount of those factors is 100 percentage. So this kind of shows that how important certain factor is. So when people answer the survey, they are able to select multiple, but 27 percentage of all selections were about the network connection. And I think that is kind of quite obvious. So if you look at that network connection, then the next one is the VPN, and even accessing tools. These are all things that are really basics. If they are not right, you cannot do anything. And in that sense, it's quite clear that these are the biggest ones that if something is wrong, if these are wrong, then everything is wrong, so you will rate the service very, very low.

Sami Kallio: On the other hand, if you look kind of the other end there, people don't feel that it's hard to contact their colleagues. They don't feel that they wouldn't have kind of the good practices of how to work, and they know how to arrange online meetings. So kind of those are maybe, or as you can see in the future, when we are looking at the positive things, they are not the things that are now the main point. The main point is really get things, like I said, to at least something. That is still the situation if you are looking at this.

Pasi Nikkanen: And this might be really interesting to see how these percentual in the coming weeks. So if we do the next report, let's say in the four weeks, have companies and have people been able to get the network connection issues solved? Are the VPNs now working? So what is then going to be the next thing is going to be really interesting.

Sami Kallio: Yeah. And I know that throwing something like this is really frustrating because you might have 10,000 people working from home with their own home connections and all, but kind of that network connection really is the bad issue here because, as Pasi already said, there are 10 people in the meeting, only 1 having bad connection might ruin the experience for everybody, and not able to work in an efficient way. And of course now there are Netflix, and everybody are dropping out the capacity of what they are using so they get enough network. But I would say mainly, at least what I have experienced now during the week, is the one person's home network connection might be the bad link. And that's enough to cause problems, and that's kind of the ... thinking of how we can support people in a way that we can get the ... So get things working in a way that we support people to get better internet connection at work, which is easy for us to say. We are small company, we can upgrade everybody's connection if that's the case.

Pasi Nikkanen: But still, it might actually be that your home is in a location where you are not able to get it. So yeah, I'm fortunate that there's a fiber cable coming to my house with one gigabyte connection, but then our other colleague is only forced to use 4G, and there's nothing he can do about it, actually. So it will probably stay there. But yeah, trying to figure out work around how to make it better. But then kind of how will this happiness change? So something we draw up with you. So do you want to start explaining a little bit, like how we might see that, as an IT department, how to kind of prepare for the coming weeks and months, and let's say years as well.

Sami Kallio: So yeah, I think what we were thinking here was that this is not going to be over in two weeks, and kind of the expectation of end-users will be having change, and this kind of is our estimate what will happen. So now, as you can see, maybe they're on the Maslow Hierarchy. Yes, we are in a level of now getting it technically working, access connectivity, equipment, you have the basics done. The next step, how we feel, is that the remote meetings kind of culture have to be even on a better level. Maybe if the connections are enough high you can have your videos on, and that is the policy that everybody will always keep videos on, and that kind of stuff. So you start to really take care of the minds of people that when you are working in this way that everybody's on their laptop and sharing things, and then discussing, you need the connection with people.

Pasi Nikkanen: Yeah. And it's kind of like you start sharing a screen, it just works. It's not like, again, every time you have to see that, "Hey, are you now seeing my screen?" And somebody's saying that, "I can't see the screen now." So it's just really frustrating. That's really basic stuff that should be working after you get all the connectivity and equipment is working. So setting it up, how do I invite people here? Because I guess there's so many levels. Some people, this is every day that they're already doing this. They are setting up. Maybe some people, they always been in an office. Maybe something like somebody in the finance department, or someone, she or he has never had to really do was setup these meetings. So it might be new things for them as well.

Sami Kallio: Yeah. And I think you said as well that it's not going to be only remote meetings, online meeting. It has to be remote call working. And that's kind of the expectation of when users will be, and the business expectation to us in IT is going to move quite fast. The situation that we have to be able to support them in doing workshops, and really doing cooperation, and finding who is working today or who is not. Can I now contact Pasi or not? Because I cannot see him entering office, I have to know can I call and ask something exactly now, or am I interrupting something. So kind of the ways of working will be changed quite rapidly now, and thinking about those ways, how we can support it. So this is not all now kind of support work related, but this definitely is related to how we want to work as a remote.

Pasi Nikkanen: Yeah. And if you think about our old company, where we used to work, like a service design company, the culture was that everybody goes into a workshop room and then you start drawing with pens, and you have Post-it. But how do we actually do that remotely? I mean having status meetings, and talking about stuff online is fine, but actually working, creating something, solving problems when you are not able to sit next to. So I think that's a real challenge that will, let's say, in the coming months. I mean you can tackle a few weeks with meetings and kind of phone calls and stuff like that, but then it might start to be a hassle. Yeah. And I think then you said really nicely, anybody who has kind of done user experience things like having mobile-first culture, then we feel that maybe then companies should start to have remote-first culture.

Now there's big offices totally empty, think about the infrastructure that has been put on the meeting rooms, the cost of the meeting rooms. Why actually would you then, if you are remote-first culture, would even have to have that kind of so many, so high tech meeting rooms there? Because also these kind of hybrid meetings are very bad when certain people are in the meeting room, and somebody's remote, and it's always everybody's not the same level. Somebody's maybe not hearing properly, and then they cannot see when somebody starts drawing on the paper and things like that. Although, this may be something we talk with Sami. We'll happy to chat about this more, so just contact us in social media or whatever. But then let's continue with the data. So next thing will be the neutral factors and then the positive factors. So maybe looking at this picture, let's see will that data also somehow correlate with our thinking here? So neutral factors, people who selected seven or eight.

Sami Kallio: Yeah. So as you can see in here, the network connection is even higher and even more dominating compared to the other factors here. And again, all those basic things that you get things working on a basic level, they are more important now. So even if you click seven or eight, you are not maybe satisfied. Okay, you might get connections, but I would say maybe that the network connection here is about I might have okay connection, but others are lacking. And it's that crappy feeling when things are not moving as they should be.

Pasi Nikkanen: Even that one comment about that presenter cutting the network connection. That was a person who gave a neutral score. So, all right then. What about the positive?

Oh, yeah.

Sami Kallio: Yeah, let's go to the positive because I mean that is showing kind of the difference. So now, when looking at the 9 and 10, we start to be more in a way of best practices, and kind of we have to be able to give them the good experience to really get good and high scores. 9 and 10 are so good comments. So you kind of start to feel that yeah, remote working is a positive thing. As you can see, 19% of these people said that they weren't working so efficient. Now in the negative way, 10 percentage of those people said that I don't feel that a negative ... I feel a negative thing to work remotely. So these guys, most like, they're also quite familiar with the working. So now we have to also remember that we have now 5,500 answers, and part of those people are now working remotely maybe the first week in their life, and some are like us, working every week and every day remotely [inaudible 00:25:08]. So that's kind of the ... There are different kinds of people thinking differently about this situation and how familiar they are with it.

But I would still say that, in the future, to get 9 and 10, so make people really happy to work, and not you losing time, and not losing their nerves, you really have to be able to support them on the count of a more cultural level, so how we do things, and that is the same way while we work. You don't have to ask everybody to open their camera. You don't have to say that this is the way how we work. You don't have to tell that we are start meetings exactly the right time. These cultural things will be having a bigger and bigger influence. How we instruct people to this. And that stuff will be more important for sure, but only after we have the basics done so that everybody is able to technically join things.

Pasi Nikkanen: All right. I think that kind of covers the sneak peak data we have today. There were a couple of questions. So one what I already answered to that, Sami. So possible to receive the copy of these slides? Yes. We'll send these slides, and we'll also write an article with the data on our website, and Yitendar was asking about how do we actually capture this data. So we actually have, on our website, an IT a remote work article that kind of shows you how it's been captured currently, and basically also on our website you can look at the demo, how the product itself works. I basically just don't want to go into deeper on this webinar how the solution works, since we want to keep this as a sharing of data meeting.

Sami Kallio: But maybe one comment of that. Now we have to remember this. All this data is collected after they have had a request or incident ticket. So this is related to that they had something else to handle with IT as well in the same time.

Pasi Nikkanen: Yeah. All right. But yeah, that basically covers it. So stay safe, and sane. And yeah, I think the conference call being noise is now more relevant than ever. And if you go out to a walk and you want to hear more of me and Sami chatting around on topics, and some of the customer stories, you can subscribe to our HappyToday podcast as well. It's available on all the podcast platforms, and our website as well. But yeah, from my side, thank you. Any last words, Sami, that you want to share?

Sami Kallio: No, just contact us if you want to discuss the issue, sure. Of course, we are trying to learn about the situation as you are, and we want to be kind of linking people who have issues with something related this one, and maybe some other customers, or our contacts has resolution or solution for that. We try to be a help between different parties. So yes.

Pasi Nikkanen: Yeah. All right, thank you guys. And we'll let you know when the next webinar with the more in depth research is coming out. So thank you. Stay safe, and talk to you later. Bye.

Sami Kallio: Yep. Thank you. Bye.

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