Higher productivity among remote workers and cost savings realized by businesses worldwide during the pandemic means telecommuting probably is set to continue for the foreseeable future for most organizations.

At least those are the findings of a survey of global business executives by The Economist Intelligence Unit, the research division of Economist Group.

Two-thirds of those polled agreed that remote work probably will continue in some form, while 32 percent see telecommuting as a temporary trend, the study found.

“Remote work is now a given, but certain questions loom: What does all of this mean for workplace productivity? And what specifically makes employees less or more productive as they work from outside the office?” The Economist wrote in the report.

The survey results answered those questions.

About four in 10 businesses reported an increase in productivity amid the shift to remote work, while 32.6 percent saw a drop and 29 percent reported no change in output.

Of the companies that reported a decrease in productivity, one in five attributed the slide to the fact that they “had not fully implemented or adopted remote working capabilities needed to work effectively from home,” the study said.

“There is strong positive correlation between greater support for the uptake of digital tools and increased productivity, highlighting the importance of such digital tools in this transformation,” it added.

Improved well-being, lower costs

Fueling the rise in productivity has been the elimination of commutes to and from the office, the report said, with about two-thirds (66.9 percent) of respondents citing it as one of the reasons for improved output by remote workforces. At the same time, the elimination of the daily commute helped contribute to employee well-being.

Flexible hours and a lack of distractions in the office, such as discussing nonwork topics, also were named as top reasons for higher productivity, the report found.

In addition to registering higher productivity, businesses also are seeing financial advantages in continuing remote work. Almost 9 in 10 (88.5 percent) of those polled listed increased cost savings as one of the reasons they expect remote work will remain an option.

“Covid-19 is a turning point in the way we work,” The Economist said in the study. “As companies adapt to the intricacies of remote and hybrid work, they have been forced to innovate and adapt. Remote working is no longer a privilege; it has become the norm — and will remain so at least in the near future.”

The Economist Intelligence Unit surveyed more than 360 business executives in May 2021 on the implications of remote work on organizations.

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