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More than one year after the first COVID-19 cases, many organizations around the globe continue to operate remotely. Telecommuting presents a number of logistical challenges compared with the traditional office setting as remote workers must rely on a vast suite of tech solutions for collaboration.

In March, medical-alert product provider, Bay Alarm Medical, released the results of a survey designed to understand sentiments regarding remote work skills in the age of virtual collaboration, willingness to return to the office following vaccine distribution, the appeal of remote work among retirees and more.

Pandemic impact: Self-assessment

Overall, the findings are based on a survey involving 1,029 remote employees between the ages of 18 and 70. A section of the survey asked respondents to assess their productivity, job satisfaction, job security, confidence with technology prior to and during the coronavirus pandemic. During this time period, confidence with technology remained about the same for both younger and older telecommuters. Confidence with tech among younger employees increased 1.6% during this time whereas older employees reported a slight decrease (3%).

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Both groups reported dips in personal productivity with a larger decrease among younger employees (6.8%) compared with older respondents (1.8%). Sentiments regarding job security decreased from 35.8% before the pandemic to 30.9% during the pandemic for older respondents and from 27.5% to 22.2% for younger respondents. Job satisfaction decreased for both age groups (0.4% for younger respondents and 3.7% for older respondents).

Remote work skills

A portion of the survey asked remote employees to rate their remote work skills ranging from “very good” to “very poor.” For respondents under 50, 60.2% rated their remote work skills as very good or good compared to 73.3% of workers 50 and above. Nearly one-third (28.9%) of respondents under 50 rated their remote skills at average compared to 23% of older respondents. About one in 10 of respondents under 50 rated their remote work skills as poor compared with 3.6% of older telecommuters.

Returning to work

In recent weeks, U.S. vaccination efforts have ramped up and more than 56 million adults (about 17% of the U.S. population) have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. When asked about the likelihood of returning to the office following vaccine distribution, 21.6% described this scenario as extremely likely and 29.9% of respondents described this as very likely.

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About one in five respondents (20.2%) said they were extremely willing to work in the traditional office once the COVID-19 vaccine is distributed and 31.4% said they were very willing to do so.

Nearly one in three (30.3%) said they were moderately willing to work in the office following vaccine distribution and 12.1% said they were slightly willing to do so. Only 6% said they were not willing to work on-site following vaccine distribution.

Retirees interested in returning to the workforce

The survey involved 181 respondents listed as retirees between the ages of 40 and 81 with a median age of 60 to understand “whether or not they felt the remote work landscape made it appealing for them to come out of retirement or pick up part-time or gig work.” Overall, about one-quarter of respondents rated the “opportunity to work remotely while retired” as extremely appealing and the report said that nearly half of respondents retirees (45%) had applied for remote jobs or gigs.

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“While quarantine boredom likely played a role in seeking remote work, 23% of retirees felt it was ‘extremely necessary’ for them to come out of retirement to work and generate income due to COVID-19. Considering both boredom and financial necessity, the majority of retirees interested in remote work were only looking for 10 to 20 hours of work per week – just enough to keep them busy and paid without overwhelming their personal time,” the report said.

Nearly one-third of retirees (29.5%) rated the WFH prospect as very appealing with 26.7% saying it was moderately appealing and 14.4% describing the prospect as slightly appealing. Only 3.4% of respondents said the opportunity was not appealing.