What Will Remote Work Flexibility Look Like After Covid-19 Has Come & Gone? A New Survey Has Answers
A new study by researchers at Plugable, an American computer peripheral manufacturer and resource for workspace essentials, offers insight into what to expect as more companies make the move to a partial or full-time remote work setup.
“We surveyed 2000 managers from companies in the United States to better understand what the future of remote work will look like as we move into a post-Covid-19 world,” says Plugable founder, Bernie Thompson. “The results suggest that a one-size-fits-all approach to remote work is unlikely to become the norm. Instead, companies will develop unique approaches that fit with the nature of their industry and the personality characteristics and management philosophy of decision makers within the organization.”
Of the 2000 managers surveyed (all of whom were employed by companies that plan to offer their staff long-term remote flexibility post-Covid-19), 45% indicated that requiring remote workers to spend 2-3 days per week in the office is necessary to maintain a healthy level of organizational collaboration and communication. Approximately 28% of managers felt having remote workers in the office once per week is sufficient to maintain healthy levels of communication, while 17% felt that 2-3 in-office days per month would be enough. Less than 5% of managers indicated support for a zero in-office requirement.
In step with the pivot to remote work, more than half of managers said they are increasing the number of shared hot desks and open seating areas in their offices. Moreover, 27% of managers indicated plans to reduce the size of their offices, either by moving to a new location or leasing less square footage.
“Sentiment is somewhat divided on how to equip part-time and full-time remote workers when they come into the office,” says Thompson. “According to our research, approximately 45% of managers will promote an option that offers hot desking with a laptop dock, monitors, and other peripherals. Approximately 35% will utilize hot desking without any additional infrastructure. And, about 20% are choosing to host their remote staff in shared conference rooms or spare offices with just their laptop.”
Although remote work is becoming more prevalent, managers are still concerned about how it will play out. For instance, the researchers found that managers expressed significantly more confidence in staff who work in the office full-time than those who split their time between their home and the office or those who are fully remote. Managers are wary of giving recent hires and younger staff the option to engage in part-time or full-time remote work. They are also concerned about allowing employees with young children to work from home.
Not all managers are created equal, however. The research suggests that a manager’s personality and leadership style influences the way they view remote work. For example, “authoritative” managers, or those who mobilize their team toward a vision, saying things like “come with me,” are more likely to endorse a five-day in-office workweek compared to managers who express a “democratic” (forging consensus through ask-and-answer participation) or a “pacesetting” (setting high standards for performance and leading by example) leadership style. Moreover, introverted managers, compared to extraverts, are more likely to endorse the idea that staff should be required to be in-office a minimum number of days per week or month.
“The technology exists to make working from home a seamless experience and we are already seeing companies investing heavily in upgrading video conference rooms to enable remote meetings, adding hot desking infrastructure, and investing in portable productivity tools for their staff,” says Thompson. “Looking ahead, it may be psychological factors that ultimately influence an organization’s decision to speed up or slow down the pivot to remote work.”