There is a significant divergence in the perceived success of remote working between office workers and business leaders, a study by Arkphire has found.

Senior company directors in Ireland believe that remote working has had a significantly more positive impact on their businesses than their home-based workforces during the Covid crisis.

A survey carried out by Censuswide on behalf of Arkphire and co-sponsored by Citrix and Dell Technologies, found that bosses believe the move to remote working is more beneficial than their own workers. Arkphire is the Dublin IT services firm that was acquired recently by $3bn US IT giant Presidio for an undisclosed sum.

“Remote working is now engrained in the fabric of working life. It’s not going away any time soon”

The study comes in the wake of the Government’s National Remote Work Strategy, geared towards empowering employees who wish to continue working remotely post-pandemic.

Disconnect on remote working benefits

However, despite its apparent benefits there is a disconnect between bosses’ and workers’ perception of the effectiveness of remote working.

For example, 54pc of directors say camaraderie has improved under remote working arrangements, while only 19pc of employees agree.

And 81pc of directors believe that employees’ self-discipline has improved, while only 6pc feel it has deteriorated.

From the employees’ perspective, 46pc say their self-discipline has improved compared to 23pc who say it has deteriorated while working remotely. Self-discipline issues are more prevalent in companies with more than 100 office workers.

When it comes to wellbeing, 31pc of staff feel their wellbeing has deteriorated since they started remote working, whereas only 13pc of directors feel this is the case for staff.

There was some agreement too. 98pc of directors trust that their employees are working well remotely and 90pc of employees feel trusted.

The majority of directors (94pc) and employees (80pc) feel more confident or as confident in their ability to manage their business and workload respectively.

Only 12pc of employees and 5pc of directors would prefer a full-time return to the office.

Inspiring company culture through Covid and beyond

Man talking to colleagues on computer screens.

Paschal Naylor, CEO of Arkphire

The results of the survey also identify the differing viewpoints between employees and directors regarding the impact of remote working on company culture. 56pc of directors feel their companies are performing better in terms of maintaining a cohesive company culture, compared to 18pc who feel that this aspect of their company has deteriorated due to remote working.

General office workers think otherwise, with only 23pc feeling that their company’s ability to maintain a cohesive culture has improved, versus 28pc who feel this has deteriorated in the remote working era.  

Directors also expressed concerns around how their employees are spending their time while working remotely. 63pc of directors fear that staff may be using their time working remotely to reassess their job prospects and search for new job opportunities. They are right to be concerned as 52pc of employees say they are doing so

“We have a unique set of actionable data points that clearly show a significant perception chasm between management and staff when it comes to the effectiveness of remote working across numerous strands, particularly around workload management, delegation, performance assessments, and employee onboarding,” said Paschal Naylor, CEO of Arkphire.

“With the Government recently unveiling the National Remote Working Strategy, the future of work looks increasingly decentralised. As such, better work-from-home policies will need to be developed to ensure there is a greater synergy between business leaders and employees, so that remote working works for everyone. This has been a learning curve for everyone, directors included. However, there are a number of practical steps that can be taken to iron out some of the kinks and help create a more seamless and effective remote working landscape for all.

“Prioritising constructive one-to-one sessions with staff, providing regular feedback, arranging outdoor meet-ups and pouring resources into wellbeing initiatives are just some of the ways in which companies can demonstrate their commitment to employee engagement.

“Remote working is now engrained in the fabric of working life. It’s not going away any time soon – our survey findings show that only 12pc of employees and 5pc of directors actually have a preference for a full-time return to the office. In light of this new reality, we need to inspire employees to excel from anywhere in the world. By effectively using technology to encourage more collaboration, productivity and improved culture, leaders can ensure that their businesses can thrive in the new hybrid working world and employees feel fully supported,” Naylor added.

By John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 1 February 2021

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