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03. Part 3―Remote Work and Its Impact on Workplace Culture

Not everyone adjusted well to remote and hybrid work environments. The majority of our survey respondents (62%) felt the pandemic harmed their workplace. But the vast majority of those people did say it was only temporary while just 4% called the hit permanent.

Published: Jan 7, 2022

Larger companies have embraced hybrid settings, with 45% of companies with more than 100 employees opting for hybrid models, while 44% of those with company sizes of 6-20 employees reported being in an office. Key elements of workplace culture have largely remained the same after adopting remote work, though one in three decision-makers reported that their employees felt less connected to each other than they did before.

Employees collaborated in a variety of ways, including video conferencing tools such as Zoom and Google Meet. Some companies have implemented small group sessions to allow for more connection, while others simply maintained their pre-Covid protocol.

How People Feel About Remote Work

Three in four small business decision-makers said their employees feel positive about working remotely. About 5% said their employees felt negatively about the prospect of remote work.

Surprisingly, about 20% of respondents said the pandemic had a positive impact on their workplaces, with more than half of those (11%) calling the boost permanent. One reason: working from home has helped many employees’ work-life balance. “

“Most small business owners understood that while the short-term effects of the pandemic would always be challenging, their businesses would survive if they were willing to adapt,” said Michael Mendenhall, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer/Chief Communications Officer at TriNet.

What People are Saying

Whether survey respondents felt positively or negatively about remote work, their feelings tended to be strong. Positive aspects of remote work included the lack of commute and ability to tend to family needs, while negative aspects included an inability to connect with colleagues in real time. Decision-makers whose employees liked remote work felt so because:

  • The ability to avoid a long commute into the office is a positive factor, allowing employees to be more productive

  • It has addressed some family care issues, allowing the employee to still work and care for someone at home

  • Reduced commuting, ability to work around family obligations

Those who said their employees felt negatively about remote work commented:

  • The lack of real-time business communication leads to the slow progress of the business

  • They miss collaborating directly with their colleagues

  • Working from a kitchen with the baby crying and the dog barking is not comfortable

The results show that a significant number of workers felt more “proud to work at their company” (29%), “engaged in their work” (25%) and “rewarded for their work” (27%) than before working remotely. Working from home gave employees “a better work-life balance and if they have to tend to something at home for a little bit they are able to,” one respondent says.

Results by Industry

Especially for those in the technology industry, remote work was seen as more positive than negative. The following industry types felt very positive or “somewhat positive” about remote work:

  • 58% of technology companies

  • 48% of retail companies

  • 44% of business services companies

  • 46% of financial services companies

Notably, company size did not have a great impact on whether respondents felt their employees were favorable or unfavorable to remote work.

Remote Work and Diversity

Overall, decision makers have not overwhelmingly changed their company’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) investment. About 50% said that there had been a “normal” amount of attention given to DEI efforts relative to previous years.

Technology purchases may have helped; 81% of respondents said they’ve permanently adopted new human resources management tools. DEI efforts may also have been beneficial. A third of respondents (33%) said they invested more resources into DEI initiatives around such practices as hiring, management and communications.

“Culture and focus are critical for business success, now and in the future,” Mendenhall said. “Again, it’s all about people, whether it’s customers or employees.”

“They feel really good about being able to balance their work-life, their home life in new ways, and maybe get more done during the day and be more flexible with their work hours. They think their employees really like that.”

—Davis Trice, Director, Client Services at Morning Consult

Coming Up

Look for more highlights in our final article of this series as we take a deeper dive into what this all means for the future of business.

Read and download the full report.

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