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Exclusive: Vast majority may 'never go back' to the office

Remote working
(Image credit: Shutterstock / GoodStudio)

Remote working has been touted for a number of years as an avenue to increasing employee engagement, improving work-life balance and attracting millennial talent, but not many could have predicted the extent to which people have embraced the home office in recent months.

According to a survey of TechRadar Pro and ITProPortal readers, the vast majority of workers (80.6%) would consider going remote on a permanent basis, never returning to the traditional office.

Even more remarkable, despite the fact that 33.8% of respondents described remote working as challenging, almost three quarters (73.5%) of this sub-group said they would consider making a permanent switch regardless.

Having spent the last four months becoming increasingly adept at operating outside the office environment and buoyed by the unexpectedly positive experience, employees were also inclined to praise their business’ handling of the transition.

More than half (60.0%) said they think their company has managed the upheaval at least relatively well, despite the fact that many organizations had never had to support remote staff.

Working from home

In March, when it became clear no one would be returning to the office for the foreseeable future, the need to communicate with co-workers exclusively via video conferencing and collaboration software will have been the source of particular anxiety for many.

However, less than a fifth (15.24%) of workers cited communication issues as the most challenging aspect of remote working. This is perhaps a credit to services such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet, used by a record number of users to keep both businesses and personal lives afloat during this testing period.

Instead, remote workers struggled most with parts of their jobs that could not be performed remotely (24.3%), temperamental internet connection (17.7%) and the impracticalities of the home environment (16.18%) - all of which were larger thorns in their side.

Working from home will never suit all staff, some of whom are employed in fields that require physical attendance. The pandemic will also have caused considerable damage to industries (such as co-working and events) founded on the assumption that face-to-face is preferable.

For many businesses, however, remote working could be just the tonic. No longer restricted by geographical considerations, firms are able to recruit from an international talent pool, save on travel and real estate costs, and better cater to the demand for flexibility.

Although it’s difficult to make accurate predictions while the virus remains at large, early appetite among both businesses and employees suggests the future may well be remote.