Remote and hybrid work has always been a rather polarising concept. But the split in its impact, and its implementation going forward, may actually be a function of industry and organisation size, according to a new report by The Economist Intelligence Unit.
The report, sponsored by Kyocera Document Solutions and based on a survey conducted earlier this year, found that, broken down by industry and organisation size, certain companies were more likely to see greater improvements in productivity in the remote or hybrid model. These were large organisations and those in the financial industry.
A total of 61.3% of financial services executives said productivity in their organisations went up after the switch to remote work, more than 1.5 times any of the other industries represented in the findings. Companies with revenue greater than US$500m were more likely to see an increase in productivity, whereas companies with revenue under that threshold were more likely to see no change or even a decrease in productivity.
Why, though? The report cites a few possibilities: firstly, financial services work doesn't actually require employees to be on site. Puneet Swani, career business leader for the Asia, Middle East, Africa and Pacific region, Mercer, suggested that employees in professional services firms are already accustomed to working from outside of their offices, meaning that their companies already had the infrastructure to support remote or hybrid work, and the transition was smoother for them.
Similarly, large companies will generally have the resources to tackle the challenges of remote work, whether technological, psychological, or just managerial.
The report also mentions that 53% of Australian executives said their organisations saw decreased productivity because they didn't implement the infrastructure or processes needed to enable remote work - an issue that also came up in this survey People Matters covered last month.
This may have implications for the long-term implementation and acceptance of remote work going forward: 39% of all survey respondents believed that remote work increased productivity for their organisation, but among those who believed that remote work will continue in some form in the future, the number jumped to 51.2%. In other words, organisations that saw good results - mainly large organisations and financial services firms - are more likely to continue with a remote or hybrid model. As for other organisations, they may well be in the 32.8% who believe remote work is just a temporary blip, even though it's been going on for a year and a half by now.