Working From Home in the Age of Coronavirus

Lessons for today and tomorrow


Introduction, Background, and Highlights

Figure 1 — Sources of disruption.

Survey Background

Figure 2 — Regions participating in the survey. (Responses to survey question: “Question: Where are you located?”)
Figure 3 — Roles of survey respondents. (Responses to survey question: “Question: What is your role or job function?”)

Temporary and Permanent Changes in the Amount of WFH

Figure 4 — Past, present, and future frequency of WFH. (Responses to survey question: “Tell us about your WFH situation.”)

Learning from the Pandemic

General Communication and Connectivity

Figure 5 — Most commonly used general communication tools.
Figure 6 Newly added communication tools.
  • Poor microphone quality
  • Poor webcam quality; image not well-framed in webcam
  • Dropped connections
  • Children and other family members interrupting meetings
  • Dogs barking
  • Network lag
  • People talking over each other (“You go, no you go, no you go”)

Meeting-Specific Communication

Figure 7 — Most commonly used meeting tools.
  • Team members put more effort into their written communications
  • Team members put more effort into using their team’s collaboration tools
  • Team members have become better at video conferencing
  • Meetings are better planned and stay on task more
  • Unnecessary meetings have been reduced

Complex Communications

Figure 8 — Most commonly used tools for social interactions.

The Personal Experience of WFH


  • No dedicated workspace (work from kitchen table; must share space with spouse or children)
  • Uncomfortable chair or desk; no standing desk
  • Insufficient internet bandwidth
  • Shared internet bandwidth with multiple other people using the same internet connection for their own work or school
  • Unreliable internet (dropped connections)
  • Old, slow computer
  • Only one computer screen, small screen, no screen separate from laptop
  • Different technology at home than at work (e.g., Mac at home, Windows at work)
  • Interruptions from roommate, spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend
  • Working in same physical space as a roommate/partner/spouse and children
  • Online meetings scheduled for same time as roommate/partner/spouse


  • Less stress from traffic, missed trains/buses, late trains/buses, hurrying to be at work on time
  • More time for both work and home
  • Cost savings from gas, train fares, bus fares

Background Stress From Coronavirus

The Team Experience of WFH

Figure 9 — Changes in working relationships. (Responses to question: How has it been working with ___?)
Figure 10 — Changes in working relationships with The Same removed from responses.

Home Environment and Teamwork

Collaborative Work

  • Multiple people in a conference room using the same microphone vs. everyone having their own microphone
  • Some people using collaboration tools and others collaborating face to face
  • Some people communicating by email and others communicating face to face
Figure 11 — Most commonly used collaboration tools.

Increase in Shared Experience

  • They inquire about one another’s well-being more often; they are connecting on a more human level
  • They take more social breaks together
  • People from remote locations are on a more equal footing, and everyone has gotten to know everyone else better
  • There is a greater sense of supporting one another
  • Different people have “risen to the occasion”; they have a different view of the strengths and weaknesses of the team
  • They share an interest in the survival of their business
  • People are better rested and in better moods because they are not commuting

The Leader Experience of WFH

New Challenges for Leaders in Supporting Teams

Challenging Communications

  • Mentoring junior staff
  • Onboarding new staff
  • Recruiting and hiring
  • Working on new, complex issues
  • Getting to know your staff at a new company
  • Confronting performance issues
  • Helping with conflict resolution

Tool Usage

Figure 12 — Tools most often used for company communications.

Effect of WFH on Specific Technical Practices

Challenges in Scrum Events

Figure 13 — Effect of WFH on Scrum activities.
Figure 14 — Effect of WFH on Scrum activities with The Same removed from the responses.

Challenges in Kanban Events

Figure 15 — Effect of WFH on Kanban activities.

Challenges in SAFe events

Figure 16 — Effect of WFH on SAFe activities.

Scrum/Kanban Tool Usage

Figure 17 — Most commonly used Scrum/Kanban tools.

Long-term Recommendations for WFH Based on Survey Findings

Recommendations for Individuals

  • Install adequate internet bandwidth
  • Install computer equipment comparable to what is available in the office environment
  • Install an ergonomic workspace
  • Set clear expectations with housemates about when interruptions are allowable and when they are not
  • Define a clear start and end to the work day
  • Take regular breaks; go outside; exercise
  • Allow yourself to attend to home and family issues as needed; adjust the work day if needed

Recommendations for Teams

  • Have whole teams WFH on the same days, if possible
  • Set clear expectations about each team member’s work hours; respect that person’s hours
  • Allow team members to share aspects of their personal lives in remote team meetings
  • Avoid WFH with newly formed teams
  • Avoid WFH for teams that do not work well together
  • Favor more in-person time for junior staff
  • Favor in-person meetings for large-group activities
  • Favor in-person meetings for complex activities such as front-end project activities
  • For teams that WFH often, schedule virtual social times or in-person social times in addition to work-focused meetings

Recommendations for Leaders

  • Develop your remote-leadership skill set
  • Be explicit about your plan to support people and teams who are WFH; identify the factors that need to change compared to supporting people you see in person
  • Remember to consider emotional needs as well as task-related needs
  • Be conscious in choosing what you will try to accomplish remotely and what would be better to accomplish in person


Acknowledgments and Further Reading

For a pdf version of this report, please visit Construx’s website.



Author of Code Complete and More Effective Agile, CEO at Construx Software, Dog Walker, Motorcyclist, Cinephile, DIYer, Rotarian. See

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Steve McConnell

Author of Code Complete and More Effective Agile, CEO at Construx Software, Dog Walker, Motorcyclist, Cinephile, DIYer, Rotarian. See