Executives See Remote Work as Productive, But Challenges Remain

Is remote work more productive than its in-office equivalent? How you answer that question depends on whether you’re a top executive or an employee, according to a new IDC survey sponsored by Unisys

IDC surveyed 560 business leaders and 558 employees worldwide, defining “business leaders” as those at the director level or above (and thus capable of making decisions about workplace and work transformation initiatives). With virtually all businesses having engaged in either remote or hybridized work for more than a year, both executives and workers have a solid grasp on whether having teams work from home is just as productive as the in-office experience.

While 79 percent of business leaders said that remote work was just as, or more productive than working from the company’s offices, many of them expressed concern over some aspects of remote work, including communication, unreliable internet connectivity, difficulty accessing vital data, and effective IT support.

Those leaders also cited “inability to focus due to non work-related commitments” as a threat to productivity, which speaks to some of the tensions around work-life balance that have occupied the tech industry for the past year. Many technologists have been forced to balance their work schedules with the need to monitor kids’ at-home schooling, older relatives’ medical care, and so on; while many companies have done their best to accommodate technologists’ needs, it’s clear that some managers continue to see balance as a challenge.

There’s also the issue of cybersecurity. During the pandemic’s early stages, when businesses everywhere rushed to ensure that employees could work from home, many security protocols were ignored. Employees used their own (and possibly insecure) devices to access company data, for example. Roughly a year later, cybersecurity specialists are still working to ensure that remote work is as safe as possible

This new IDC data hints at a few interesting things: First, despite fears that remote work would murder productivity, many executives and workers feel they’re as productive as ever. Second, there are still issues that remote teams need to work out with regard to communication, work-life balance, and other factors.