For a large majority of leaders in IT, HR, internal communications and marketing in the U.S., remote work won’t be ending anytime soon.

That’s according to a survey by StitchDX and Powell Software. It found that more than three-quarters (78 percent) of business leaders in those fields expect to work at least 50 percent or more from home for the remainder of 2021. Only 14 percent plan on working full time in the office.

The poll results highlight the importance of having the correct digital workplace technology for remote staff.

“Over 50% of remote workers are worried about workplace exclusion as more people work remotely or in a hybrid model on a permanent basis,” said Matthieu Silbermann, chief product officer at Powell Software. “It will be vital to leverage tools that help employees feel part of the company culture.”

About 8 out of 10 of respondents believe such technology “will be very important or extremely important to their overall strategy for 2021 and beyond,” the study said.

Employee engagement, collaboration tools are priorities

Leaders also revealed that employee engagement, company communication and a better overall digital experience are the top three priorities for their 2021 digital workplace strategy.

“Keeping employees engaged and on task is a priority for leaders and executives,” the report said. “The challenges of remotely managing a workforce to maintain continuity and organizational viability are driving greater investments in these technologies and the need to utilize the digital workplace better in a hybrid environment.”

As such, collaboration tools will be even more critical post-pandemic, not less, the report said. Ninety percent of those polled believe such tools are “very important or extremely important.”

“The future of work is increasingly remote. That much is certain,” the report said. “The success of that work will not be determined by where it is done, but by the tools and strategies of the new digital workplace.”

Office-space needs expected to shrink

The extension of remote work will have an impact on office space as well, the study showed.

Only half of respondents said their businesses plan to keep the same amount of office space as before the pandemic, while 60 percent enterprise businesses (those with 5,000 employees or more) said their real-estate footprint would be smaller or much smaller.

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