4 reasons why remote work is here to stay 

Video call; working from home

Executives expect both hybrid and fully remote work to keep increasing over the next five years, a new survey has found. 

Many CEOs are publicly gearing up for yet another return-to-office push, but privately they’re expecting hybrid and fully remote work to increase by at least about 2% and 1% respectively between 2023 and 2028, according to the Survey of Business Uncertainty 

Harvard Business Review said in an Aug. 28 blog there are four reasons why remote and hybrid work will increase: 

As remote-working technology improves, the share of people working remotely increases. In the 1960s, offices were entirely paper-based, but by the 2000s, the internet and nascent video calls made remote work easier. The COVID-19 pandemic significantly increased the amount of research and patenting happening in technologies that support remote interactions;  
Start-ups born since the pandemic are more likely to use remote work options. As these younger firms grow, the share of jobs offering remote work will increase; 
Canada is well-positioned for remote work and has one of the highest rates of remote work in the world — in April/May 2023, full-time employees worked an average of 1.7 full paid days per week from home in Canada; and
Employees like remote work — studies have found working from home is valued by employees about the same as an 8% pay increase on average. In one recent large study, it helped reduce turnover by as much as 35%. 

Canadian P&C industry professionals also like their remote or hybrid work arrangements. A Canadian Underwriter poll of 650 industry professionals from March 2023 found 71% reported being happy with their hybrid office arrangements. About 46% were ‘very satisfied,’ 26% were ‘satisfied,’ while only 11% were either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their hybrid work arrangements. 

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Nearly 89% of the industry offered a hybrid work arrangement, meaning employees can choose to work from home for at least one day a week, CU’s poll found. 

iStock.com/filadendron

The Survey of Business Uncertainty questioned senior executives at about 500 U.S. businesses across industry and regions. The survey — jointly run by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, the University of Chicago and Stanford University — asked businesses: “Looking forward to five years from now, what share of your firm’s full-time employees do you expect to be in each category [fully in person, hybrid, fully remote] in 2028?” 

Executives expected 72.6% of U.S. employees would be fully in-person/on site in 2028, down from 75.7% this year. Hybrid work percentages were expected to increase to 16.3% in 2028 from 14.1% in 2023, while fully virtual/remote workers were expected to increase 1% to 11.2% in 2028 (up from 10.2% this year). 

The HBR blog, Survey: Remote Work Isn’t Going Away — and Executives Know It, reported that ‘fully remote’ work is up to 10% less productive than onsite work on average. But productivity in hybrid mode differs across jobs, people and management practices. 

“On average, however, hybrid work seems to have little net effect on productivity and may increase it,” the blog authors wrote. “Hybrid arrangements also save on the costs — in time and money — of commuting. If employees accomplish the same amount of work whether they commute into the office two or five days a week, they’re actually spending their time more efficiently in the hybrid arrangement.” 

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While the future extent of remote work remains uncertain, the blog authors expect little chance there will be a big return to the office. 

“Remote technologies will only get better, and employees will gravitate to firms with more flexible policies. The biggest clue that the return-to-office push won’t work, though, is the fact that executives themselves privately predict that remote work will keep increasing.”

 

Feature image by iStock.com/Kateryna Onyshchuk