Tech companies ready for future hybrid work model

26 February 2021 3 min. read
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A hybrid work model – part remote, part in-person – is coming, and technology, media, and telecom (TMT) firms are more prepared for it than other sectors, according to a report from PwC.

The pandemic plunged most knowledge workers headlong into the world of remote work  and productivity didn't disintegrate. According to the consulting firm's survey, remote work has actually boosted employee productivity in most cases: 81% of employees and 80% of employers believe remote work has proved as productive or more productive than pre-Covid times.

Despite admitted increases in productivity, however, many TMT executives are examining when it will be tenable to get their workers back into the office environment. Indeed, as of January, approximately 27% of surveyed TMT leaders told PwC they already have approximately half of their employees back at least half-time – and 80% expect that to be the case by July.

A return to the pre-pandemic office is unlikely, however, and though a select few may consider complete remote work, most TMT firms will pursue a hybrid model.

According to PwC, TMT companies are ahead of other sectors in establishing policies, providing tools, and offering resources to manage remote work effectively. The nature of much of the sector’s work is also more amenable to remote work than, say, manufacturing. Indeed, 55% of TMT employees said they were working remotely at least one day a week before the pandemic – well above the 43% in other sectors.

Touting the productivity of remote work + Policies, resources, tools essential

TMT firms are likelier to allow workday flexibility (84% versus 79% in other sectors), help with workload management (83% vs 71%), provide employee training for effective remote work (83% vs 71%), and support employees’ mental health (77% vs 65%).

Employees also note that remote work has been good for innovation, customer service, and project management – with 80% saying these areas have fared as well or better than pre-pandemic times. However, activities that need personal interaction, such as onboarding and relationship building, haven’t fared well.

As such, the vast majority (98%) of TMT execs say a physical office will be needed to sustain company culture and provide a collaborative environment. Employees tagged relationship building – whether with colleagues or clients – as the top reason for being in the office.

Nearly 70% of TMT execs say they are comfortable with employees being in the office two to four days, while 17% want five days in-office. Fifty-five percent of employees would like to work remotely at least three days a week, while 27% would prefer to work remotely the whole week.

During the pandemic, many TMT workers have opted to leave expensive urban hubs (especially the Bay Area) for cheaper locales to bank some extra cash. As the hybrid model approaches, firms will have to identify what role offices will serve, and what will be the optimal locations for headquarters and regional offices.

“While a return to the pre-pandemic office model is untenable, crucial employee relationships — the essence of corporate culture — require at least some measure of in-person connection. Flexibility from both executives and employees will be essential,” the PwC report concluded.