Mattermost survey reveals remote work is here to stay

Mattermost has always been a remote-first company. Building a product that safely and securely allows our teams to communicate with each other regardless of geography or distance is the cornerstone of our philosophy on working remotely. 

Over the last year, the world of working online from home changed dramatically. Many people have been forced to move into a working situation they might not have been familiar with. For some, the transition came with the relief of finally finding the ability and space to work remotely from home. For others, it’s been a constant struggle to balance work, family, pets, and personal space.

As a company that strives to improve the remote experience for our teams, we decided to do a survey to find out more about what people working remotely are experiencing, what they were doing before remote became the default, and what they hope will happen in the future.

It’s important to note that this is a non-scientific survey conducted by the Community Team here at Mattermost.

Who we surveyed

Before digging into the remote work, we wanted to get a sense of the “who” when it comes to the results.

The survey was anonymous, but we asked people about their main role. Over 50% responded they were Developers, Team Leads, or Managers of software development teams. Fortunately, there was still plenty of representation from Designers, DevOps engineers, and even folks working in the community.

Next, we took a look at the geographic make-up of the participants and saw that we received responses from almost all regions of the world. The bulk of participants were concentrated in North America and Europe.

Remote work

Of the participants, it appeared as if one-third had only begun working remotely since the pandemic. Fortunately, this was the group we were most interested in. They would have a fresher set of experiences compared to many who simply transitioned to only having the option of working remotely or who had experience working remotely for several years.

Where exactly do you work?

With logistics handled and a better understanding of levels of experience, we drilled down to behaviors when working remotely.

Before remote work became widespread, it seemed there were few options. Maybe you’d work from a coffee shop or a co-working facility. Or maybe you’d have an office or dedicated space in your home. 

When the pandemic flipped everything on its side, some of those options went away. But even more than that, people had to make decisions without the reference of regularly working remotely. Where would they end up actually working within the confines of their own residence?

Remote work

What tools do you use?

With the actual working conditions well-established, we realized tooling would be the next thing to examine.

The answers here were less surprising. A vast majority of respondents are using some form of messaging, and two-thirds use a tool for document sharing. On the developer and designer side, they mentioned using GitHub or GitLab on a daily basis — again, not surprising. 

We were, however, surprised to find out how few respondents were using things like Dropbox to share files or Jira for project tracking (only about 27%). Some mentioned finding that certain tools proved themselves less useful during forced remote work while other tools — like chat and messaging — have taken a more prominent role in keeping the team functional.

How do you feel about working remotely?

There is also the overall sense of well-being associated with remote work. We cannot assume everyone is happy to work from home and it presents a huge change for many. When asked how the respondents felt about working remotely, 83.4% responded positively with 63.9% saying that feeling was not changed by the pandemic.

That said, 75% said they felt positively about teams working remotely, which is a stiff 8% drop. It seems about 25% of people do not enjoy team remote work — even if they believe that working from home is good for them personally.

Tips on remote work success

Some respondents mentioned making changes to their routine in order to be more successful, such as bringing in a more disciplined scheduling routine or limiting the number of video meetings in order to have more time to complete tasks.

One respondent commented on the importance of engaging more actively in socialization as — unlike in an office — there was no chance for random conversation such as when someone is walking past your desk or in the break room. This kind of interaction is critically important to team success, especially when everyone is so isolated socially outside of the work day.

Of course, respondents also offered suggestions on how best to get into remote working for people new to the situation. Here are some highlights:

  • Be willing to ask “silly” questions (as context can be missed in text-based and even video conversations).
  • Walk away from the keyboard! Work is work and personal time is personal time.
  • Don’t forget to stand up and move sometimes.
  • Try to have non-work-related conversations with your coworkers.
  • Communicate with family and friends on what you are doing and help them understand your work process.

Many of the lessons learned from this abrupt work-from-home situation have led people to find value in the thing they hold most dear: their time. 

Looking ahead

As a conclusion, we wanted to see how people would feel moving forward. We asked two key questions to see if they planned to adhere to the remote work lifestyle they were immersed in. First, we wanted to see what plans their employers had post-pandemic:

Remote work

Then we compared that to their personal plans:

Remote work

It seems many people have become accustomed to and prefer working remotely. Hopefully, managers and employers will align with the desire of most people to engage in remote work.

Why Mattermost loves remote work

We also took a look at what Mattermost was doing internally, going as far as sitting down with CTO and Co-founder Corey Hulen to talk about remote work and why it works for Mattermost.

It seems as though the evidence supports remote work for the future. It’s important to note that this is a tech- and open source-skewed survey, so your mileage may vary. 

Looking ahead, we are hoping to see more responses to our survey. If you’d like to add your take, the survey remains open. We look forward to hearing from you!

Mattermost remains dedicated to making the remote experience better, safer, and more secure. To find out more, jump into our community server.

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PJ Hagerty

PJ is the Senior Developer Advocate at Mattermost and a board member at Open Sourcing Mental Illness (osmihelp.org). He is also an organizer of DevOps Days Buffalo, CodeDaze, and ElixirDaze . Additionally, PJ is a developer, writer, speaker, and musician. He is known to travel the world speaking about programming and the way people think and interact. He is also known for wearing hats.

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