COVID-19 has shifted the way we interact with the world, both in our personal and professional lives. Seemingly overnight, everything changed. The new reality we find ourselves in has led to the great “work from the home experiment.”

As of April this year, 62% of Americans, 40% of Europeans, and 49% of UK workers made the switch from the office to the home. According to a McKinsey report, 80% of American workers responded that they are enjoying the change.

MedComms Networking, a global initiative focusing on the pharmaceutical and medical communications industry, conducted a survey of 758 professionals from around the world to better understand the new challenges and experience of working from home.

View from the Home Office

Making the switch from the corner office (or corner cubicle) to home can be challenging for some, but the majority of responders indicated that they were enjoying the change. With the proper equipment, working from home can be just as effective as working in an office. And some people find that they are even more productive given more control and a quiet workspace.

In the past, companies have voiced concerns about workers being unengaged as a reason for office-based working. However, the survey found that most workers did not find this to be true. The majority feel valued, engaged, and motivated while working from home.

One responder said, “Just having the flexibility to be at home a few days a week would help to reduce the ongoing to-do list as I find it more productive working from home with fewer distractions in the office environment.” Others cited flexible hours, no commute, and a better work-life balance as their reasons for enjoying the change.

When Remote Work Hurts

Although, not everyone is enjoying the change. 35% said they have trouble keeping their work and home life separate. For those with small children, the switch has been especially difficult as they try to balance childcare with their work responsibilities. Even before the pandemic, splitting attention between work and family was an issue for many people who worked from home.

The rapid switch has left many people feeling isolated and lonely as well. MedComms’ survey found that around 20-25% of people are not adjusting well to the change.

Even more troublesome is the work that cannot be done from home. At least 440 clinical trials have been suspended since March 1st due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The impact of which will likely be felt for years to come.

Tips for Working Remotely

MedComms’ survey found that 85% of pharmaceutical and medical communications workers do not believe work will return to the way it was before the pandemic. As someone who has worked from home for over 6 years now, here are my top tips to make a home office work for you:

  1. Separate your workspace from the rest of your house
  2. Give yourself permission to take small breaks as needed
  3. Give your day structure
  4. Let your family know when your quiet hours are
  5. Find a way to disengage at the end of the workday (close your laptop, turn off an office phone)