Is the remote workforce here to stay? Small businesses everywhere have been making their adjustments for well over a year but how have things really been going out there? As small business owners and their employees continue to adapt to ever shifting events, it can be challenging to know what is working and what is not. In some recently published data, PWC decided to see just how well the remote work force has been working out. The following is taken directly from that research:
- Most of the executives and employees we surveyed expect this hybrid workplace reality to begin to take shape in the second quarter of this year. PWC surveyed 133 executives and 1,200 office workers.
- Remote work has been an overwhelming success for both employees and employers. The shift in positive attitudes toward remote work is evident: 83% of employers now say the shift to remote work has been successful for their company, compared to 73% in our June 2020 survey.
- The office is here to stay, but its role is set to change. Less than one in five executives say they want to return to the office as it was pre-pandemic. The rest are grappling with how widely to extend remote work options, with just 13% of executives prepared to let go of the office for good. Meanwhile, 87% of employees say the office is important for collaborating with team members and building relationships — their top-rated needs for the office.
- Employees want to return to the office more slowly than employers expect. By July 2021, 75% of executives anticipate that at least half of office employees will be working in the office. In comparison, 61% of employees expect to spend half their time in the office by July.
- There’s no consensus on the optimal balance of work days at home vs. in the office. Over half of employees (55%) would prefer to be remote at least three days a week once pandemic concerns recede — little changed from the 59% who said the same in June. For their part, while most executives expect options for remote work, they are also worried about the effects: 68% say a typical employee should be in the office at least three days a week to maintain a distinct company culture.
- Least experienced workers need the office the most. Respondents with the least amount of professional experience (0-5 years) are more likely to want to be in the office more often. Thirty percent of them prefer being remote no more than one day a week vs. just 20% of all respondents. The least experienced workers are also more likely to feel less productive while working remotely (34% vs. 23%). They’re more likely to value meeting with managers or company training programs than their more experienced colleagues.
- Real estate portfolios are in transition. Most (87%) executives expect to make changes to their real estate strategy over the next 12 months. These plans include consolidating office space in premier locations and/or opening more satellite locations. Over the next three years, while some executives expect to reduce office space, 56% expect to need more. These mixed findings show that some companies are planning to reinvest the remote work dividend in new ways in order to create a special experience in the office.
Though almost all companies surveyed expect to be back on their premises and able to support 50% capacity by the end of 2021, much can change. Companies are making their own plans about if and when to go back to the office — and by what proportion. There is no set template.