In July 2019, Owl Labs kicked off our first inaugural Work from Home Week: a challenge to work remotely for an entire week to improve communication and collaboration and cultivate empathy on hybrid teams. Owl Labs was inspired to launch this initiative because our research shows that more than half of people around the world work from home at least once per week already, and some of the challenges that remote workers face are easily solved by more thoughtful communication and collaboration with their in-office co-workers.

We wanted to challenge our team internally and other hybrid or remote-friendly organizations around the world to try working from home for a week to gain more empathy for their remote colleagues and learn about the ways they as individuals and teams can work together more effectively. Our 20+ corporate partners and 500+ participants helped bridge the gap between those working inside and outside of the office and foster meaningful understanding of how to work better together in evolving hybrid work environments. You can read and learn more about how the challenge went by checking out the #WFHWeek hashtag on Twitter.

We surveyed #WFHWeek participants before the challenge and after the challenge to learn about their expectations and pre-conceived notions of the week, as well as what surprised them after they'd successfully worked from home for the week. Keep reading to learn more about everything we learned from our partners and participants after participating in #WFHWeek 2019.

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Everything We Learned from Work from Home Week 2019

1. WFH can come with FOMO.

Like any change, something like working from home for a whole week comes with its fears. We found that 46% of those we polled before #WFHWeek were concerned with missing in-person conversations, 32% were worried about missing in-office amenities, and 30% thought they'd be more distracted at home.

After #WFHWeek wrapped up, participants cited missing in-person conversations and in-office amenities as the biggest challenge of their weeks at home.

Bringing more conversations into Slack channels and increasing frequency in communication with others on your team working remotely can help alleviate some of these fears. Stocking up on healthy snacks and drinks at home can help you power through your work without missing out on raiding the office snack closet. Discovering where you lose focus at home is important, and switching up where you work can often help get you back on track. Take a break, read some  inspirational quotes, or work up a sweat to help you keep working productively.


2. #WFHWeek participants came out happier and more empathetic.

We loved learning what participants gained from working from home for an entire week. 85% of those surveyed cited a better work-life balance, while 55% found more productive time to work during the week. 37% also thought their empathy had increased for their remote co-workers, which was one of the primary reasons we created the event.

Companies stand to benefit from remote work by way of improved employee morale. According to our 2017 and 2018 State of Remote Work reports, employees that work remotely at least once per month are 24% more likely to be happy and productive in their roles than those that don't, and companies that allow workers to work remotely experience 25% less turnover than those that don't. With these benefits in mind, there is a tangible reason for businesses to support remote work so employees can feel happier, more productive, and more likely to stay with their employer longer.


3. Productivity at home was the same or even better than in the office.

Employers can sometimes be concerned about employee productivity when they consider offering working from home or remote work flexibility, but we were pleased to learn how much more productive than usual so many #WFHWeek participants were.

Before completing #WFHWeek, 51% thought they were more productive while working from home, and after completing #WFHWeek, 60% of participants said they were more productive when they worked from home. Overall, 85% of #WFHWeek participants said they were as productive or more productive when they work from home versus when they work in the office.

In our 2018 State of Remote Work report, we found that the #1 reason employees chose to work remotely was for the increased productivity and better focus, and what we heard from #WFHWeek participants backs that data up. People are choosing to work remotely so they can get better work done, and workplace flexibility from employers helps them do that.

If you aren't sure where you work most productively, you can take our quick quiz to find your ideal work environment.


4. #WFHWeek participants plan on working from home more often.

Before #WFHWeek, 60% of participants we surveyed said they worked remotely at least once a week. After completing #WFHWeek, 30% said they plan to work remotely more frequently, and 25% plan to start working remotely full-time.

Sometimes all it takes is a little push or challenge to ourselves to try something new, and we were thrilled participants learned so much about their working styles and productivity by participating in #WFHWeek. The remote work movement is growing around the world, and we have plenty of resources on our blog about remote work and working from home to keep learning more about it.

 

5. Remote workers need the right at-home setup to be productive.

If you're thinking of working remotely more often, then there are a couple products that we found were most requested by #WFHWeek participants in order to improve the at-home experience. A monitor, a wireless mouse, and a keyboard were the most-requested items when we asked participants about the tech they wish they had in their home office after completing #WFHWeek. (Some of our favorite monitors for remote workers can be found here if you're looking to upgrade.) These pieces of hardware can help improve employee productivity when they work from home so they don't skip a beat when they work out of the office. Some companies even offer remote workers a stipend so they can build out the home office they need to do their best work.

 

6. Offices need the right setup to support and effectively communicate with remote workers.

As remote work and workplace flexibility benefits grow around the world, employers have a role to play in making sure remote and hybrid workers are successful, no matter where they work. From management and leadership training to specific software and hardware tools, integrating remote workers successfully with their in-office teams requires some effort and dedicated assets on the companies' part.

66% of respondents surveyed said they wished their office had a whiteboard camera, while 22% said their office needed a superior video conferencing camera to be conducive to more productive remote work and hybrid meetings. Products like these bring remote workers into the room with their in-office colleagues for meetings and brainstorming sessions, making for more effective hybrid collaboration and communication.

Tools that support remote work don't need to be expensive. For example, the Meeting Owl is an all-in one 360° video conferencing camera, speaker, and microphone in one device that solves for the needs of remote workers and their co-located team members. The Camera Lock feature can be used to focus on whiteboards so remote workers can see what's being written down in conference rooms, or teams can invest in a whiteboard camera like Kaptivo.

We learned so much about supporting remote workers and their teams from our #WFHWeek partners and participants, and we can't wait to keep working together for #WFHWeek challenges in the years to come. To learn more about #WFHWeek 2019, don't miss this writeup in The Boston Globe about the event, or this recap from our partners and friends at G2.

If you don't want to miss out on #WFHWeek 2020, sign up here to be notified about next year's event.

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