Countless articles, unscientific LinkedIn polls, and blog posts have speculated about what the future of work will look like: how will in-the-office, hybrid, and remote work be mixed? A new research study provides the most accurate picture yet.
The Future of Remote Work, a new research study from Spiceworks Ziff Davis (SWZD), provides a detailed examination of trends and projections about work structure.
The data presented is based on a survey of more than 400 IT professionals who, as the study authors point out, “manage computer infrastructure and support the technology needs of their coworkers, a role that puts them in the position to know where and how the world will work in the future.”
Here are four key findings from the SWZD research.
More People Will Work Remotely (But Offices Won’t be Empty)
As the authors note, previous research from SWZD back in July 2020 found that “16% of the workforce was remote before COVID-19 and that 61% of the overall workforce went remote at the height of the public health crisis.”
Once it’s safe to return to the audience, it’s projected that 25% of workers will work outside the office at least part of the time. While that’s a significant increase over pre-pandemic levels, it nevertheless means that three-quarters of workers will be back in the office full time, and 94% will be there at least part time.
What’s more, “7% of companies that allow remote work plan to reduce salaries if remote employees move to an area with a lower cost of living.” Hmm. Don’t have to go back to the office, live somewhere else now, just took a pay cut…this just may feed into the great resignation.
Where You Stand on Remote Work Depends on Where You Sit
Seven out of 10 IT professionals think “remote workers are equally or more productive than onsite workers in a similar role,” and more than half believe that offering a remote work structure enable companies to hire and retain better talent.
But opinions about the benefits of remote work vary considerably based on one’s title or level in the company. While six out of 10 individual contributors favor remote work, less than a third of those in executive-level management have a positive view of it.
Attitudes Toward Remote Work Vary by Generation (Not Surprising)
Millennials view remote meetings more favorably than more senior workers. 43% of Millennials said they prefer virtual meetings over face-to-face gatherings, while just 27% of boomers say the same.
The generations also differ in their estimate of the stigma attached to remote work. Per the study authors, “more than one-third of Millennials (35%) and Gen X (36%) believe there’s a stigma around remote workers in their organization, compared to about a fifth of Boomers (22%), even though all three generations have a strong desire to work remotely themselves.”
Remote Monitoring is Probably Not a Good Idea
The report also takes a look at what types of technology to support remote work companies are investing in. Two of the biggest areas are collaboration software (including online video chat and virtual event platforms like Zoom / Microsoft Teams / Google Meet for everyday team meetings, and software like Shindig for larger gatherings where the ability for attendees to interact freely is vital), and security solutions to support remote workers (the “biggest area for growth” per the study).
Unfortunately, a third of companies “currently use or will, within two years, tools to monitor remote employee activity .” This may not be wise. First, employees don’t enjoy feeling spied on, raising the risk that your workers with the best chance of finding a new job (that is, your best employees) will leave.
Second, remote employee monitoring tools can often be gamed. Employees waste time figuring how to beat the software instead of being productive.
Third, done improperly, remote employee monitoring can expose employers to regulatory risk and potentially even significant fines.
Fourth, and worst of all, they probably won’t even work. Per the study’s authors, “only 21% of IT professionals believe remote monitoring software can effectively measure worker productivity. ”
But Wait, There’s More!
There’s much more in the complete study from SWZD, such as technology barriers to working remotely or supporting remote workers; the effects on office space rental; the urban-rural divide; and more. Check out the full report to get all of the details and insights.