In a survey of 118 senior human resources professionals, findings indicate that most companies plan to have from 25% to 100% of their workforce continue to work remotely post pandemic. These numbers are consistent with the percentage of employees working from home during the height of the pandemic in 2020 and represent a significant shift in the way companies will work and interact with their employees moving forward.
“The impacts of this shift are various and far reaching,” according to Sally Stetson, Managing Partner at Salveson Stetson Group. “Companies are currently rethinking how they pay their employees, manage performance, and create a work environment that promotes organizational values and belonging.”
Salveson Stetson Group, a multi-specialty retained executive search firm in Philadelphia, conducted the survey from March 18 to April 4, 2021 and covered a broad range of topics regarding the pandemic’s impact on employment, work environment, and talent.
Employer concerns with remote workers were wide ranging with promoting company culture (89%), tracking employee productivity (41%), and engendering loyalty (23%) being top of mind among respondents. Additionally, the survey showed that a majority of employers are currently evaluating their real estate needs, with more than 65% of respondents indicating they have already decided to reduce their real estate footprint or are considering doing so.
“Many companies indicate they are moving toward a remote work or hybrid work model, which combines in office and remote work, and this aligns well with employee preferences,” according to John Touey, Principal at Salveson Stetson Group. “Companies that don’t offer an array of flexible work arrangements will soon find themselves losing talent at all levels to those that do.”
In a companion survey of executive level professionals, Salveson Stetson Group found that more than 80% of respondents preferred a remote work or hybrid work environment over a return to a full office setting.
The employer survey found that most companies will continue to allow employees to work from home if job duties can be performed remotely. Most companies (65%) indicated they do not plan to bring employees back on-site for at least the next two months with approximately 46% saying they have no plans to bring employees back within the next three months. Conversely, about 25% of respondents indicated they are already bringing employees back on-site. Factors involved in their decision making include vaccine availability (79%), government guidance (79%), and local COVID-19 positivity rates.
“The last year has taught companies that not only can they survive in a remote setting, they can indeed thrive,” Stetson said. “The move to remote work was already underway but has been hyper accelerated by COVID-19. Management practices are catching up and companies are already adopting collaboration and communication tools to better connect their employees to each other and to the company.”
Challenges remain, however. A significant number of employees feel less connected to their colleagues and clients than they did pre-pandemic. Additionally, more than half of the respondents (53%) at all levels have indicated that this new work arrangement has negatively impacted their work/life balance.
“The C-Suite can’t simply look at the near-term productivity gains and cost reductions associated with remote work,” Touey said. “For this new model to be sustainable, business leaders must continually examine the impact that remote work has on innovation, collaboration, and employee well-being and adjust accordingly.” For more detail or questions on complete survey results, please contact John Touey at Salveson Stetson Group.