Remote work expectations high among businesses
While much has been touted about employee needs amid the “new world of work”, businesses are also envisioning new ways for future operations post-pandemic.
A global study conducted by PC maker Lenovo shows a vast majority of businesses (83%) expect to work remotely at least half the time, with employees sharing the same sentiment.
The study, the “Future of Work and Digital Transformation”, surveyed more than 8 000 employees and ICT decision-makers across 14 markets from companies of all sizes on the impact of remote work, including job satisfaction, technology challenges and solutions.
Key among the study’s insights, says the Chinese multinational technology company, is that most workers reported to have adapted “remarkably well” to working from home and work from anywhere.
As a result, most businesses expect workplace changes due to COVID-19, anticipating employing some form of hybrid work model, with employees working both at home and in the office, notes the study.
“Over the past year, businesses and employees alike have gained deep understanding of both the challenges and benefits of remote working practices,” says Shashank Sharma, executive director and GM for Lenovo Middle East, Turkey and Africa.
“As organisations the world over seek to adopt hybrid working models, today’s IT departments must grapple with the domains of data security and compliance more than ever. Businesses need reliable technology partners to fully manage their hardware, software and services to maximise value, boost security, and ultimately empower employees to work from anywhere.”
A bit of both
The hybrid way of work allows employees to split their time between working from home and coming into a shared office environment.
The Lenovo study shows most employees (83%) want a hybrid-work model post-COVID, saying the flexibility leaves them more satisfied with their job overall.
According to 60% of the surveyed employees, they now prefer remote work at least half the time, while over one-third want to work from home or work from anywhere most or all of the time. This sentiment, notes the study, increases among workers in larger companies, with approximately two-thirds of those respondents in large companies preferring to work remote at least half the time.
“It’s not unusual, particularly in large organisations, to be working with teams across continents and time zones, which make the physical location of an office less relevant for effective collaboration.”
Similarly, tech giant Microsoft’s first annual Work Trend Index found 73% of workers want flexible remote work options to continue.
It points out that remote job postings on LinkedIn increased more than five times during the pandemic, adding that over 40% of the global workforce is considering leaving their employer this year and 46% are planning to move now that they can work remotely.
A 2021 study by the Boston Consulting Group found that 53% of South Africans would give preference to a job that allows them to work from home some of the time, while PwC found that work-from-home (WFH) was one of the top 10 work preferences in SA.
According to the survey, remote work has also led to a new suite of digital hardware, software and services solutions, noting that employees’ collection of devices and technology for work has become increasingly personal and collaborative.
“Employees are increasingly leaning into the use of their personal devices such as laptops, smartphones and tablets for work, with 79% of employee respondents saying they’re now using their smartphones for work-related tasks, such as voice and video calls, e-mail and work chat.”
When it comes to PCs, technologies such as artificial intelligence-based noise cancellation during calls, webcam privacy shutter, eye care for displays’ natural low blue light and better device cooling rank as the top smart device features across employees of all business sizes.
However, workers aren’t taking enough advantage of company programmes to finance their technology purchases, finds the report. “While 80% of IT departments reported they are willing to cover purchases of work-related equipment, sometimes as little as 22% of employees have used these policies.
“Unsurprisingly, collaboration cloud and software tools for needs like video calls and simultaneous document collaboration are now essential for 97% of employees. Almost two-thirds of respondents also say these tools help improve productivity and efficiency.”
2021 and beyond
Closer to home, a study conducted by business process outsourcing solutions provider Merchants found that recruiting the right talent is arguably the most important element of a successful work from home strategy for any business.
Merchants deployed over 2 000 agents to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. The business carried out a study to determine the top performers within the organisation and those working from home.
According to Merchants research, those agents working remotely are most successful when they are detail oriented, disciplined and committed, empathetic and caring, prioritised personal integrity, and respectful and well-mannered:
On the other hand, top-performing agents working from the office are adaptable, articulate, disciplined and committed, with the desire to make a difference and a positive attitude.
“While WFH might be a popular option among local employees, many business leaders have learned that some employees are better suited to working from home than others – especially true in the contact centre environment, where providing a positive customer experience is increasingly important for success,” says Merchants CRO Mathew Conn.
“By understanding what behavioural traits drive top performers, businesses will be able to design and carry out the correct training and development programmes to ensure all new and existing employees are working in roles that are well-suited to their personality type, in which they can grow and flourish.”