Tech Trends & Future of Work

The State of Remote Work, Q3 2021

In this quarterly One-Minute Insight Report, Pulse surveyed over 350 tech leaders in Q3 to understand:

In Q3 2021, after more than 18 months since lockdowns kicked in, amid the rise of the COVID-19 Delta variant and vaccine mandates, how have decision-makers been navigating remote work?

Data collection: Q3, 2021

Total respondents: 354 tech decision-makers

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Remote workers still the majority for many decision-makers—a situation most continue to be satisfied with

Most leaders (35%, down from 40% in Q2) report that over 75% of the employees at their organization are still working remotely in Q3.

The vast majority of decision-makers (93%, up from 91% in Q2) continue to be satisfied with the state of remote work.

“Last quarter was completely remote, but this quarter was a mix of both [remote and in-office].”

- Director, large oil/gas/mining company

“[Remote work is] becoming easier the longer we continue this path.”

- Director, large software company

Increased employee satisfaction remains the top benefit of remote work, and recreating the social aspect of the office still the biggest challenge

The top benefits of managing a remote workforce are increased employee satisfaction (79%, up from 78% in Q2), reduced costs (60%, down from 64% in Q2), and improved employee retention (59%, up from 47% in Q2), which replaced increased employee productivity (55%, down from 58% in Q2) in third place.

The top challenge reported in Q3 continues to be recreating the social aspect of the workplace (65%, up from 63% in Q2), while new employee onboarding (63%, up from 58% in Q2) has risen to second place, replacing maintaining a defined company culture (62%, up from 59%), which drops to third.

“We have noticed productivity gains along with cost savings and improved morale.”

- Director, large software company

“The social aspect of work life is taking a massive hit, and it is harder to both retain and hire new talent.”

- C-suite, small-medium software company

Chat and video conferencing remain the top remote enablement tools in use, while spend on remote enablement tools continues to increase

The most commonly used remote enablement tools are chat/messaging (82%, down from 89% in Q2), video conferencing (77%, down from 88% in Q2), and cloud storage (69%, up from 65% in Q2).

Most (42%, down from 49% in Q2) didn’t plan on purchasing any new tools in Q3, though for those who did, automation tools remained top of the list (23%, up from 18%). Identity authentication (19%, up from 14% in Q2) rose to second place from third, displacing cloud storage (18%, up from 17% in Q2).

Most (74%, down from 75% in Q2) decision-makers anticipated an increase in remote communications technology spend, mostly by a 1-5% increase (42%, up from 38% in Q2).

“I am enjoying [remote work] more, the flexibility and the tools available are very encouraging.”

- Manager, small-medium software company

Almost all decision-makers remain open to hiring remote workers—and don’t believe geographic cost of living adjustments are in the pipeline

Most decision-makers agree (92%, up from 90% in Q2) that they are open to hiring remote workers.

In Q3, it still seems that most decision-makers (55%, up from 53% in Q2) believe their organization is not planning to make a geographic cost-of-living salary adjustment for employees who choose to permanently work remotely.

“I feel that if an organization’s employees have proven that they can work remotely successfully, they should be allowed to choose whether they remain remote indefinitely.”

- Director, large software company

Most report that organizations are still opting for flexible work models in the future—though decision-makers themselves still prefer a mostly remote model

Most decision-makers (35%, down from 39% in Q2) report that their organization plans to have employees mostly in office but with some flexibility, similar to Q2.

However, when asked about personal preference, most continue to lean towards being mostly remote with some time in the office (31%, unchanged from Q2).

“I feel that [remote work] needs to continue to be offered and is the future of how companies will need to operate.”

- Director, small software company

“As time passes remote work becomes more efficient, employees become familiar with these new practices of meetings and remote conferences.”

- C-suite, small-medium software company

Respondent Breakdown

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