- The majority (95%) of HR and engineer leaders in an Aug. 20 survey by Terminal, a remote engineer team-building solution provider, said they navigated remote work successfully during the COVID-19 pandemic. But more than two-thirds of respondents said they do not have a long-term plan for remote work in place.
- Culture was a particular concern for respondents: only 27% said they "had a strong and thriving remote culture today," according to Terminal, and 59% said that "a Zoom happy hour doesn’t count as company culture." The survey showed that one-on-one meetings with employees, feedback such as NPS surveys and "a general gut check" with members of senior team members were the most common ways of measuring culture among respondents.
- Terminal found that productivity, work-life integration and wellness were the most commonly addressed items in existing remote-work strategies, though it also found that 61% of these strategies are less than one year old. The company's sample of 400 respondents was sourced partly from its base of contacts and partly from online market research firm Dynata.
Terminal's findings point to some concerns employers may have about the long-term viability of remote work even though they are not necessarily representative of all employers. Gartner, for example, found in a recent survey that more than 80% of company leaders planned to permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time upon reopening from the pandemic. And more than half of HR professionals in a survey by workplace social networking service Fishbowl said they would choose to work from home permanently if their company permitted doing so.
Yet, even before COVID-19, observers in the HR community stressed the importance of building long-term policies around remote work and flexibility as these trends rose in the past couple of years. While acknowledging that remote work is not necessarily a one-size-fits-all solution for multiple positions or departments, sources told HR Dive that keeping such policies transparent, flexible and supportive is key to ensuring a smooth adjustment.
Training has emerged as an obstacle to long-term shifts toward remote work. A recent survey by business review service Clutch found that 43% of U.S. persons had not participated in remote work training within the past three months, and of those that had, 27% said such training was ineffective.
HR departments have a number of resources at their disposal to close this training gap, including free learning courses offered by vendors like LinkedIn, Coursera and others. Virtual formats like webinars and interactive video meetings can help guide workers on how to stay productive, and managers can help to set the tone for team planning and adjustment to the realities of remote work.
As the respondents to Terminal's survey indicated, maintaining culture may be the biggest challenge that organizations new to remote work face. A recent survey by HR training organization Emtrain found a slight decline in the number of workers who said "there are well-understood norms of behavior governing how people treat each other in their workplace" following movement to remote work.
Aside from the interventions managers may be able to make in order to preserve culture, HR leaders might look to the examples of other companies that have managed to keep annual programming alive during the pandemic. Sources who previously spoke to HR Dive on the subject of virtual summer internships noted that the use of mentorship programs and the continuation of initiatives like community service initiatives have helped adapt certain cultural aspects threatened by the closure of offices.