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Wait, We Thought People Want to Work Remotely

Wait, We Thought People Want to Work Remotely

Aug. 2, 2021
New SHRM study shows that supervisors want onsite staffing and remote workers are concerned about losing networking opportunities if they work remotely.

Keeping up with the latest information about the thoughts and rules about working in a physical office can be challenging. As the pandemic requirements fluctuate, companies need to adjust to current health concerns.  So while this week the focus will be on vaccination requirements, I still find it interesting how people's ideas are evolving when it comes to working at a physical office.

Over the past few months, many of the surveys have shown that employees prefer working remotely and that some would even take a pay cut to stay remote. However, a new study, released on July 26 from SHRM (the Society for Human Resource Management) shows that's not exactly the case. 

Their study, which was conducted between July 16 and July 19 of both supervisors and those working remotely, found that more than two-thirds of supervisors of remote workers, or 67% admit to considering remote workers more easily replaceable than onsite workers at their organization,

Sixty-two percent believe full-time remote work is detrimental to employees’ career objectives and 72% say they would prefer all of their subordinates to be working in the office.

While most employees agree remote work is beneficial and increases performance, more than half say working remotely on a permanent basis would diminish networking opportunities (59%), cause work relationships to suffer (55%) and require them to work more hours (54%).

“With COVID-19 forcing a leap to remote work in many sectors of our economy, and organizations struggling to determine the best workforce strategies post-pandemic, there’s one fact that can’t be ignored—remote work is not ideal for everyone,” said Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.,  SHRM's CEO. “Remote work can offer benefits, but employers need to take a closer look at whether remote and onsite workers have the same opportunities and whether managers have the tools they need to be effective leaders.”

Other key findings from SHRM’s surveys of supervisors and workers include:

  • 51% of remote workers say they spent between $100 and $499 on equipment or furniture needed to work remotely.
  • 61% of remote workers who spent money on equipment or furniture paid for it out of pocket.
  • 67% of supervisors say they spend more time supervising remote workers than onsite workers.
  • 42% of supervisors say they sometimes forget about remote workers when assigning tasks.
  • 34% of remote workers say working remotely on a permanent basis would reduce the number of career opportunities available.
  • 29% of remote workers say they will have fewer developmental opportunities while working remotely.

Although women and men have similar responses on most of the ways their career will be impacted by remote work, there are some areas that differed. For example, women (23%) were more likely to indicate that they will not have the opportunity to form strong work relationships compared to men working remotely (18%).

“These results raise the question of who’s really winning with remote work,” said Taylor. “HR and business leaders need to answer this question to ensure they are able to attract and retain top talent and build an equitable workplace where everyone has the ability to succeed.”

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