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Progressive AE is a member of One Global Design, an international alliance of 20 independent design firms. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, One Global’s workplace strategy group, made up of designers from across multiple firms, experienced firsthand the disruption of transitioning from the workplace to home. Like most designers who spend their days thinking about creating office spaces that support organizations, we began to discuss the impacts of this experience on the future of work.

But what about the people?

Like everyone else, we knew there were significant short-term ramifications to productivity and collaboration. Figuring out a brand-new way of working takes time. We saw the explosion of online content about safe and ergonomic home offices, fighting zoom fatigue, and maintaining connectivity to teams. Yet, something seemed to be missing. The information we weren’t hearing about was the impact on us. All of us. What would this mean for us long-term? How might this experience impact our mental wellbeing? How would it shift the way we perceive our work?

We set out to formulate a survey focused on the impacts we weren’t finding anywhere else. These included questions about the following:

  1. The health and wellbeing of workers
  2. Changing workflows and work patterns
  3. Adoption of new and existing tools
  4. Technology’s impact on our connectivity and productivity
  5. Change readiness: How a worker’s readiness to change (and that of an organization) may impact the ability to make the transition

Phase 1: Work from Home Survey Results

Phase 1 of the survey was opened to all One Global Design firms to distribute to their employees. With just under 300 responses from 9 regions globally in under one week, we were pleased with the diversity and depth of responses.

A few results stood out to me as we reviewed the responses:

  1. We feel connected with co-workers in new ways. This experience has brought a heightened sense of camaraderie and empathy as we’ve spent time face-to-virtual face with clients and coworkers, seeing their homes, their kids, and their pets. While we’re feeling the effects of physical distancing, we’re also feeling more connected in meaningful ways.
  2. Demographics had little effect on some key insights. While we’d expect to see an impact on change readiness by region or technology adoption by generation, this experience has been disruptive to all of us and responses were surprisingly consistent across the board.
  3. We know what works best for us. Along with adopting new technologies, forced working from home has also given us a heightened understanding of how and where we work best. Increased autonomy to maintain the ability to choose how to be most productive will be an expectation for many as we transition back to the workplace – especially once we have the choice to engage with our coworkers again.

Other key insights:

Read or download the full report:

We’re Still Learning: Take Phase 2 of the “Work from Home” Survey

A second phase of the survey is now open globally for anyone to take. We’ll gather additional insights on the immediate impacts of extended work from home for an updated report in June. Subsequent surveys in late summer and fall will track our transitions back into the physical workplace.

Tactical planning for safe re-entry to the workplace is critical. However, taking this opportunity to dig into the human experience and using it to find ways to improve ourselves and the way work has been both rewarding and informative. We hope to share more findings when they come available.


Read more: Open Offices are a Business Strategy, not a Best Practice