A pulse-check of technology pros in the US highlights a strain on workplace relationships and changing sentiments towards remote working.
Remote working is taking its toll on the relationships between technology professionals and their peers.
A survey of more than 1,000 tech workers by jobs platform Dice found that relationships between employees and co-workers have deteriorated over the past year.
According to the survey, 51% of workers are finding it harder to develop and maintain working relationships with colleagues – up from 40% in the second quarter of 2020 – while 34% are having difficulty maintaining effective relationships with their managers, compared to 22% in 2020.
Dice's 2021 Technologist Sentiment Report also found that sentiments around remote working in the second quarter of 2021 have shifted since the end of 2020, with higher rates of stress being reported by workers and a "significant" decline in the number of workers who want to continue working remotely five days a week.
Overall, 36% of tech workers said they were burned out in the second quarter of 2021, up from 32% in Q4 2020. Younger employees are more likely to be experiencing burnout than their older peers, with researchers pointing to differing workloads as a potential factor: 35% of respondents aged 55 and over reported an increase in their workload during the pandemic, compared to nearly half (47%) of those between the ages of 18 and 34.
Perhaps as a result, the desire to be fully-remote dropped from 41% in Q4 2020 to less than a third (29%) in Q2 2021, Dice found, with more respondents showing a preference for a 'hybrid' model of work combining both at home and in-office days.
Only 17% said they found working in the office full-time to be extremely or very desirable, compared to 59% for both fully-remote and hybrid approaches.
Offering this flexibility could be key to retaining talent as competition for skilled technology professionals heats up, Dice found.
While 75% of survey respondents said they were satisfied with their careers, researchers found that more tech workers were willing to change employers as the world emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Nearly half (48%) of employees said they were likely to find a new job in 2021, up from 40% in Q4 2020 and a significant increase from 32% this time last year.
Career concerns for workers in their existing roles included worries about redundancy (19%), followed by "not getting promoted" (10%) and having their remote-working privileges revoked (9%).
With digital skills in high demand, tech workers are confident about their ability to secure new and better roles, with Dice's report referencing a recent Harris Poll survey that found that 44% of US workers have put plans in place to switch jobs this year.
Dice said this reflected "a broad-based optimism in an economic rebound, and possibly to a deeper general sense of dissatisfaction throughout the workforce," adding that organizations should acknowledge "the fact that it's possible that half of your workforce is on the lookout for a better opportunity."
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Art Zeile, CEO of Dice, said companies who embraced employees' desires for flexible working not only had a better chance of recruiting highly skilled tech workers, but were also more likely to succeed in hanging on to existing employees.
"The companies who succeed in attracting and retaining top talent will be those who take the time to build an agile approach that gives technologists flexibility and control over their work environment," Zeile said.
Yet Dice's report also reflected the nascency of this emerging model of work, with company bosses still trying to figure out how to put plans into action. "For team leaders and executives, the future of the office could involve a highly customized mix of remote, hybridized and in-office workers, which will require a good deal of forethought and planning to manage efficiently. the report said.
"A single solution is unlikely to fit all, or even most, employees' desires…executives who choose to implement a permanent remote-work policy will need to craft an effective communication plan that explicitly breaks down how it will work."
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