Asana report highlights changes to work styles globally

A higher percentage of Americans are adjusting to telecommuting compared to counterparts in Europe, Japan, and Australia, a survey finds.

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A new study from the work management platform Asana found that a higher percentage of Americans are adjusting to telecommuting compared to their counterparts in Europe, Japan, and Australia.
 
In the company's "Anatomy of Work: Remote Teams" study, researchers spoke to 5,140 full-time employees working from home in Australia, Germany, Japan, the UK, and the US, from April 6 to April 15. 
 
Nearly 60% of global citizens are working different hours now than before and nearly 80% of parents are homeschooling their children while also managing work. Over 40% of US parents are blocking off lunchtime to spend with family and the current economic situation is the biggest distraction for American workers. 
 
"Organizations around the world are adapting to new ways of working together while being physically apart," said Dustin Moskovitz, CEO of Asana, in a press release. "Many teams are navigating the unique challenges related to the rapid move to remote work protocols, in some cases for the first time."
 
For many people, the balance between work and home life has been completely thrown off course, mixing the two in ways that can be difficult, especially for those with children.
 
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The findings illustrate how much things have changed for thousands of workers worldwide who have had to adjust to new schedules and ways of working since efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic became global.

When it comes to productivity and collaboration, the study found surprising increases in employees feeling like they were coordinating better with coworkers and getting more done.

Nearly 35% of global workers said they have fewer meetings than they did before remote working started and almost 40% reported feeling "more productive." More than 60% are using collaboration software, messaging and video conferencing tools more as they work from home and surprisingly, almost 25% of US workers are using collaboration tools for the first time. 

A third of respondents said they're connecting with their managers more frequently. For employees using work management tools, 55% said their productivity has increased versus 35% not using work management tools. Many survey respondents also reported being three times more likely to be connecting with teams than before.

Even though the adjustments to work life have been difficult in relation to separating it from other aspects of life, 47% said they would prefer to keep working remotely once quarantine orders are lifted. That statistic does run counter to other figures in the report, namely that 77% of US workers miss interacting with their colleagues at work and for Australians that figure reached 80%.

Productivity has increased even as more than half of US workers said they were taking more breaks because they were working at home. Another 56% said they were conducting work from non-traditional set-ups, including 26% working from dining or kitchen tables, 13% working from sofas and 4% working from their bed. 

More than one third of respondents told the survey that they are starting their working day earlier while another 28% are working later in the evening.

Before the shutdown, 54% of US workers said they lacked either a desk to work from, a computer or laptop, and a reliable internet connection. Over 60% of full-time workers have increased their use of collaboration tools since working from home and just under one in five employees are using these tools for the first time.

When the numbers are broken down by country, a few things stand out. Nearly 90% of workers in the UK with school-aged children have been forced to balance childcare with full-time work, which was a higher percentage than any other country.  

In Germany, about 30% of employees have maintained their pre-lockdown work schedule and 40% told the study that they are working late into the evening now. That number was higher than the global average, which was only 28%. For respondents from Japan, 43% of workers are having fewer meetings, higher than any other countries. 

One thing that was universal in all countries was that workers were having trouble staying motivated and were struggling to stay positive about the economic and health crisis taking over the world. Most workers worldwide also said they had difficulty switching off and disconnecting from work since they always had tools available. 
 
Joshua Zerkel, a certified professional organizer and global head of community at Asana, said more workers should be patient with themselves and coworkers amid this unprecedented crisis. It was key for teams to over-communicate to compensate for the lack of in-person conversations being had, he said, adding that more employees should use "Do Not Disturb" features to unwind or disconnect from work.  
 
"Teams need confidence and clarity in their work, and platforms that foster collaboration are essential ways teams are staying aligned, organized and connected so they can continue working towards their most important goals," Moskovitz said. "It goes without saying that this shared experience will serve as a catalyst to bring teams closer together."

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