When was the last time that you spent time with your closest colleagues in person? For many of us, the answer is last March. For me personally, I work most closely with two people in Omaha, a.k.a. “Joemaha.” I have not seen either of them in person in three or four years, which is a stretch too long. At the same time, we’ve worked remotely as a team since the aughts, so we got this.
Due to the disruption wrought by COVID-19, many communications pros and information workers are now getting a solid taste of remote work. For some, it’s a pleasure. For others, they can not wait to get back to the office. In both cases, they point to a real need—socialization with colleagues and private time to think and work.
What 330 HR Execs Think About the Impact of Remote Work
A new survey conducted by The Conference Board in September queried more than 330 HR executives at primarily large US companies. The execs weighed in about remote work and hiring, productivity and well-being, workforce cost-reduction actions, and plans for returning to the workplace.
The new findings reveal that after six months of adapting to the pandemic many organizations continue to expect taking cost-reduction actions including layoffs and restructurings. On the upside, many companies have been able to fully or partially reverse some of the cost-cutting measures taken at the beginning of the pandemic, specifically around reducing salaries and wages.
Key findings from the new survey include:
Companies are now three times more willing to hire remote workers from anywhere in the US or the world.
- Talent without borders: 36 percent say they are willing to hire 100% remote workers anywhere in the US or internationally. Just 12 percent were receptive to that approach before COVID-19.
- Warming up to remote work: Compared to before the pandemic, companies are now far more willing to hire remote workers (52 percent willing before COVID-19 vs. 88 percent now).
- Increasing reports of productivity gains: In September, almost half of the respondents (47 percent) believed that productivity had increased for their workforce, compared to only 23 percent in April. This productivity increase could be due in part to employees working longer hours since the COVID-19 outbreak.
- More meetings and working hours: Many surveyed companies report that their employees are experiencing increased work hours (60 percent) and spending more time in meetings (63 percent), as well as suffering more burnouts (42 percent), decreased work-life balance (46 percent), and more mental health problems (40 percent)
“These sobering statistics beg the question of whether increased working hours are sustainable in the long term,” said Robin Erickson, Ph.D., a report co-author, and Principal Researcher at The Conference Board.
She added, “To further support the health and well-being of their workers, companies can consider implementing quiet periods without email, mandating the use of vacation time, or even offering more benefits related to health and wellness to mitigate stress.”
The Conference Board conducted this survey in September as a follow up to an April survey tracking human capital responses to COVID-19. Founded in 1916, The Conference Board is a non-partisan, not-for-profit think tank.
In Related News, Omnicom Reduces Real Estate Footprint
Phil Angelastro, Omnicom’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, recently said the holding company has eliminated more than 1 million square feet of real estate to cut costs. “We think that’s going to be permanent,” he said.
At the same time, business forges onward, but remotely.
, said, “Normally, in periods like this, we’d expect new business activity to be relatively slow. But what we’ve found since the second quarter is that there has quite a bit of activity. Most of it’s been pitched remotely.”
Wren said, “If you’d asked me in January if this was possible, I’d probably say ‘no’.”
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