HR Tech Number of the Day: Remote workflows

While many employees are adjusting to asynchronous schedules, employers haven't yet adjusted their tech strategies.
By: | May 4, 2021 • 2 min read

70%: Percentage of workers whose companies default to office-centric communication tools, despite distributed workforces

As more companies consider long-term remote and hybrid work, the importance of technology in keeping workers both connected and productive continues to heighten. And, according to one recent study, many employers have some work to do to ensure their remote workforce is making the most of technology.

Software company GitLab’s Remote Work Report based on a survey of nearly 4,000 global employees—conducted in partnership with Dropbox, Qatalog and Safety Wing—shed light on the impact of remote working, now more than a year after the pandemic started. For instance, researchers found that companies that have shifted to remote work boasted significant advantages in the last year, with about 40% saying they saw increased productivity and increased efficiencies from the new distributed model.

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However, workflows don’t seem to be mirroring that shift. GitLab found that, while 71% of workers believe their organization has done a good job of balancing asynchronous and synchronous work—the latter of which is typically office-based during set hours—70% still default to office-central tech tools. For instance, 48% of respondents said their organization would expect them to prioritize video or voice meetings as the primary method of communication, followed by chat functions. In particular, video conferencing was reported as the most common communication tool used, with project and task management and visual collaboration tools at the bottom of the list.

What it means for HR leaders

While the reliance on synchronous-focused tools is one challenge to communication and collaboration, a lack of standards around the tech tools in use is another. When asked what creates silos in the workplace, 61% of participants said their teams use different tools and work asynchronously with people in other time zones.

“We are in the midst of a complete paradigm shift from the traditional, synchronous 9-5 workday to a non-linear, asynchronous remote work future,” says Alastair Simpson, vice president of design at Dropbox. “Work as we know it will never be the same and companies have the responsibility of being the pioneers—paving the way for a more thoughtful and effective way of working.”

Workers are craving the flexibility and autonomy of remote work, says Darren Murph, head of remote at GitLab, and “progressive companies realize that they can’t—and shouldn’t—revert back to how they were functioning before,” meaning both workflows and culture need to evolve to meet modern standards.

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“It’s a big transition,” adds Simpson, “but if companies place humans at the center of their approach, I believe the benefits of remote work can bring more flexibility, effectiveness, inclusivity and better quality of life to employees across the globe.”

Related: Learn more about remote and hybrid work from Upwork CHRO Zoë Harte during the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference, May 11-13. Register here.

Jen Colletta is managing editor at HRE. She earned bachelor's and master's degrees in writing from La Salle University in Philadelphia and spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before joining HRE. She can be reached at hreletters@lrp.com.

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