During the second quarter of 2020, 557 million workers worked from home, accounting for 17.4% of the world’s employment. As organisations around the world pivoted to remote working schemes in lieu of the COVID-19 pandemic, it led to many initially interesting discussions. Some companies opted for a full-scale permanent workforce, while others pivoted towards hybrid models.
Coinbase, Shopify and Twitter all announced the intention to go ‘remote-first’. In an interview with ToTalent back in May, 2021, we posed the question whether more more companies would follow in their footsteps to Remotive founder Rodolphe Dutel. “Many companies will stay in this remote state. Where you do not have to come to the office, only for infrequent meetings and socialising”, he said. “The bulk of them will be hybrid. What you’ll see is a small HQ, that is dedicated to a co-working space where people will meet every now and then. And the rest will work remotely.”
The remote-first U-turn
While remote-first seemingly became a crucial part of business strategies, several companies have since made U-turns. A survey by accountants KPMG in August 2021 showed that just 17% of chief executives planned to cut back on offices, down from 69% in the survey a year earlier. “Either downsizing has already taken place, or plans have changed as the impact of extended, unplanned, remote working has taken a toll on some employees”, KPMG said.
Two-thirds (66%) of 397 UK-based middle managers and HR leaders and C-suite executives don’t believe that remote working initiatives will stay in place after the pandemic.
Now, a few months later, a survey carried out for workplace management firm GoodShape by Ipsos showed that two-thirds (66%) of 397 UK-based middle managers and HR leaders and C-suite executives don’t believe that remote working initiatives will stay in place after the pandemic. Interestingly enough the similar percentage (66%) cited ‘remote working’ as ‘much-needed’.
The need for flexibility
The research also points at potential tensions as companies look past COVID-19 measures. Employees now view flexibility as the norm, while it may not necessarily be on the cards. Approximately 43% of respondents expect flexible working hours to remain part of their future for work; meaning that the majority of managers and executives don’t foresee it being a big part of their businesses.
- Rodolphe Dutel (Remotive): “The future of work is all about remote flexibility”
- The 7 things to consider when hiring remote workers abroad