Lessons From A Remote Work Survey: How To Run Your Remote Workplace in 2023

The year is 2023 and The Great Reset of 2020 is still going strong. What does the future hold? Let us analyze past data to understand what remote employees want.

Do you manage a hybrid or a remote workplace? If you made the switch during the pandemic, you are well aware of the benefits and challenges of going remote. And the trickiest aspect of running a remote workplace is giving your employees what they need (and expect.)

The remote work trend peaked at the height of the pandemic, in March 2020. In August and September of that year, the government of NSW Australia decided to check in with remote employees and surveyed over 1500 of them.

Here is what they had to say in the earliest days of remote work, and what you can learn from this data. In this blog, we are going to use Gigasheet, a free online CSV viewer, to analyze remote work survey data to see what insights we can gather to help you plan your 2023.

About the Remote Working Survey Questions Dataset

This data comes from New South Wales, Australia, where over 1500 employees responded to a government survey in 2020. This survey was conducted 4 months into the adoption of remote work, so the answers reflect the employee's first opinions on the remote work model.

You can download the dataset from the NSW treasury website and upload it to Gigasheet in 3 simple steps:

  1. Create your FREE account.
  2. Log in.
  3. Click "Add new" and browse to the file.

New to Gigasheet? Here is how you can upload new files.

We are now ready to explore this data understand employee opinions and see what we can learn.

But First, Data Cleanup

First, let us refine this dataset for our convenience. Or, you can jump to the data exploration process here.

In this survey, employees answered several multiple-choice questions with pre-determined answers. For example, this question is about the productivity aspect of working remotely:

This question is about your productivity. Productivity means what you produce for each hour that you work. It includes the amount of work you achieve each hour, and the quality of your work each hour. Please compare your productivity when you work remotely to when you work at your employer痴 workplace. Roughly how productive are you, each hour, when you work remotely?

As it so happens, this question is the column name in the given dataset. Too long for our liking! Additionally, there is a special character 'I知' present in several rows. We'll have to get rid of that.

Renaming Columns

Let us quickly rename this column to "Remote Work Productivity" for our convenience.

A dialog box of the 'Rename Column' feature of Gigasheet.

Data Cleaning With The 'Split Column' Function

Next, let us get rid of the 'I知' character in the responses. (Yes, you can do this without writing any code. Or opening the file as a plain text and running a find-and-replace.)

Gigasheet's split column and combine column features will help you here.

First, split the column 'Remote Work Productivity' by the character 'I知'. The result is two columns marked split_1 and split_2.

The result of Data Cleanup -> Split on remote work survey data

Combining Columns To Remove Blanks

Notice something off? Yes, there are rows where the responses did not have a 'I知' character. They have nothing in the second column! The remaining have nothing in the first column.

Working with empty columns is not ideal. So, let us combine them into a single column so that everything is nice and polished.

Let us rename the final column 'Remote Work Productivity - Clean.' Notice that the 'Separator' field is left empty.

Combining previously split columns of remote work survey data

The resulting column has all the responses cleaned up, and no empty rows, as confirmed by the % Empty aggregate function at the bottom of the column.

The results of combining two columns.

You can verify if this little experiment was successful. Juxtapose the new column against the original values, and you can see that they match. Try it yourself!

Okay, we have worked out the kinks. Now back to the good part.

Remote Work Survey: Does It Impact Productivity In Your Industry?

What made remote work the 'new norm'? The most straightforward answer is that during the COVID-19 era, there wasn't really any other way to run a business except allowing employees to work remotely. But, to no one's surprise, several employees took a liking to remote work.

One reason they mentioned was increased productivity. Does the early-adopter data confirm it?

How Many Employees Reported The Same Productivity?

We can answer this question with Gigasheet's filters. Learn how to use filters here.

Filtering the column 'Remote Work Productivity' by the value 'My productivity is about same when I work remotely', we get 437 rows. That is less than 30% of the dataset!

The result of filtering by 'Remote work productivity.

This takes us to the next step. Most respondents noticed a change in their productivity levels. But, did it increase (as most news articles suggest) or did it decrease?

Are There Any Changes In Employee Productivity In Your Industry?

First let us reverse the filter to exclude those whose productivity remained the same. (Switch 'contains' to 'does not contain.') And we get the remaining 1070 rows.

Now, if we apply a similar filter to filter out rows that indicate the employee responded being 'more productive', we get 806 rows. So, across industries :

  • 806 out of 1507 people said they were more productive when working remotely.
  • 701 out of 1507 people said they were less productive when working remotely.

This confirms the obvious! But, what about industry-specific data? Let us dig deeper with Gigasheet's filters.

If you are a small business owner in say, the food industry, you can use this data to understand your employees' needs. Let us filter by industry.

Filtering the remote work survey dataset by industry

Filtering by industry gives us 26 rows. If we use the same filtering process and see which fields contain 'more', we get 20 rows.

So, the verdict is clear. Employees working in the food industry reported higher productivity in the first 4 months of remote working. Using Gigasheet's data visualization feature, we can observe the increased productivity patterns:

A chart describing the percentage increase in productivity with remote work, in the food industry

Remote Working In The Post-COVID Era: Yay or Nay?

This survey also had two questions which asked the respondents if they'd like working remotely if there was no COVID-19. And in 2023, while most of us are vaccinated and the world has opened up, this information is insightful.

Our two columns for this exploration are:

  • Imagine that COVID-19 is cured or eradicated. How likely would you consider the following statements? - I would have more choice about whether I work remotely (Renamed to: I would have more choice about whether I work remotely.)
  • Imagine that COVID-19 is cured or eradicated. Going forward, how much of your time would you prefer to work remotely? (Renamed to: How much of your time would you prefer to work remotely post-pandemic?)

Let us look at the first question. The modern hybrid workplace is based on the employees' demand for flexible work locations, meaning that they want to work from wherever they like. They can choose to come to the office, or work from a remote location. So, if you run a traditional office, should you consider going hybrid in 2023?

Time to use data grouping.

Grouping by the column 'I would have more choice about whether I work remotely', and visualizing it against the number of respondents of reach group, we get the following data:

Survey responses for  "I would like to have a chance to decide whether to work remotely.'

More respondents were in favor of having a choice to work remotely even after the pandemic!

And here is what we get when we use Gigasheet to visualize respondents' answers to How much of your time would you prefer to work remotely post-pandemic?

Survey responses to How much of your time would you prefer to work remotely post-pandemic?

Do You Run A Small Business? Trust Gigasheet For Data Analysis

Imagine you could manage payrolls, keep your employees happy, turn a profit every quarter and still manage to quickly analyze customer data. That's what Gigasheet is all about!

Gigasheet is a FREE, no-code, cloud-based solution for all your data analysis needs. It allows you to open large files, no matter where they are stored and how. So, whether you have a huge CSV with customer data or messy AWS log files, Gigasheet is here for you!

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