Remote work for most employees around the world appears here to stay — even after the pandemic ends.
At least that’s the finding of a survey by Globalization Partners. It revealed that 63 percent of employers plan to allow employees to work remotely post-Covid-19.
In Latin America, this number jumped to 74 percent, while North America ranked last with 54 percent of companies saying that remote work will become a permanent option. Twelve percent of organizations polled said remote work was already a permanent fixture before the health crisis and will remain that way.
Still, the remote-work option doesn’t mean employees are seeking to become so-called digital nomads, the study found.
More than two-thirds (68 percent) of global employees have not changed location during the pandemic and most kept working for the same company, it said.
That’s not to say that employers shouldn’t be prepared for eventual staff mobility. Almost a quarter (17 percent) of those surveyed have relocated internationally or plan to. Of those who plan to relocate internationally in the next 12 months, 29 percent currently work in the same country as their company’s headquarters.
Preparing for employee mobility
Employees working in South Africa, Dubai and Israel were most likely to relocate internationally after the pandemic ends, the study showed.
Employers appear to be grasping that they need to prepare for employee mobility as countries and states are providing monetary and cultural incentives for remote workers to relocate. At the same time, companies risk losing staff if they require staff to return.
A recent survey by professional-services network Ernst & Young Global Limited of more than 16,200 employees worldwide found that more than half would consider leaving their jobs after the pandemic if they weren’t offered enough flexibility regarding where and when they work.
A main reason workers want to continue working remotely is that it provides an improved work-life balance, the Globalization Partners survey showed. Fifty-six percent of those polled cited it as the most important employee benefit “contributing to a positive experience.”
“Employees want work-life balance on a global scale — more than anything else,” Globalization Partners said in the report. “How can companies strengthen and improve upon work-life balance measures that allow their employees to thrive? Companies that do this successfully will have an advantage in capturing and retaining top talent over those that don’t.”
The need for better leadership
Still, if businesses extend the telecommuting option, they will need to work on improving company leadership, the survey found.
Fifty-six percent of respondents reported that their perception of their company leaders stayed the same or worsened since the outset of the pandemic.
In addition, 47 percent of employees said that the perception of their employers stayed the same while 9 percent said it worsened.
Staying connected with colleagues is another challenge facing telecommuters, the report said.
Thirty-two percent of those polled said they felt less connected than before pandemic, compared with 28 percent who said they experienced a better connection.
Still, 38 percent of employees reported that their voices matter more since the shift to remote work, while only 9 percent said it matters less.
This “means that companies are mostly competent in making employees feel heard,” Globalization Partners said in the study.
Other areas where employers can improve the remote-work experience include better access to HR policies and documents for staff and easier processes for expense reporting and time-off requests, the survey revealed.
Globalization Partners, a hiring firm, surveyed 1,250 employees working remotely in the U.K., Germany, the Netherlands, Israel, Dubai, South Africa, Canada, U.S., Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Singapore, Australia and Japan.