When the pandemic hit, many employers that had never even considered remote work were forced into allowing employees to work from home. While the majority (86%) of U.S. employers grew more confident about remote working, most employees are expected to return to the workplace within 12 to 18 months, according to a new report by Xerox Holdings Corp.
The Future of Work in a Pandemic Era is based on a May 2020 survey of 600 IT decision-makers, including senior C-level professionals, whose organizations have at least 500 employees. The survey, conducted by independent research firm Vanson Bourne, found an overwhelming number of respondents (95%) felt that in-person, face-to-face communication is crucial for personal development and talent assessment. Consequently, employers are expected to embrace a hybrid model of remote and in-office work moving forward.
“While we have all needed to make the most of working remotely, there is much lost in terms of productivity and team-building,” according to a Xerox statement. “Full-time remote work is clearly not an indefinite reality for businesses, and a majority of decision-makers intend to return to the office in the long term.”
For many companies, the rapid transition to remote working exposed technology gaps. Just 28% of respondents said they were fully prepared for employees to work from home, with 29% citing technology as their biggest pain point. More than a third of respondents (35%) said remote IT support was most lacking (35%), followed by inadequate workflow solutions (27%), lack of communication and collaboration tools (22%), and lack of cloud-based solutions (10%).
See also: Remote work accommodations
Seeking to support this new hybrid workforce, companies are reevaluating their technology budgets. More than half (56%) of respondents are investing more in remote technology resources, with 40% investing in a hybrid of remote and in-office resources. The pandemic has also driven organizations to accelerate their digital transformation efforts in an effort to make immediate progress on long-discussed goals.
“The same companies that struggled with the sudden shift to remote work are now able to move more deliberately and plan using the lessons of the past several months,” Xerox said. “They have more confidence they can adjust relatively seamlessly to the ripple effects that may continue as a result of COVID-19.”