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Will the Future of Remote Work Survive Employer Skepticism?

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  • The pandemic proved that remote work is an equally, and in some cases, more productive work environment than on-site work.  
  • Employers are skeptical about remote work despite the research demonstrating its positive effects. Employers’ skepticism is from insecurity rather than any negatives of remote work itself.  
  • Formally training employers to manage and trust teams online can remedy confidence issues in remote management.  

Employers are skeptical about the future of remote work, but they shouldn’t be.  

Scholarly consensus agrees that remote work has had an overall positive effect on worker wellness and productivity. Few experts would say that remote work has harmful economic effects for many individual businesses.  

Most worker reports demonstrate that employees can finish what would have taken a whole workday at an in-person job in just a few hours remotely. In addition, remote work allows people more time for other non-work activities and responsibilities. 

Another perk of more widespread remote work is that the economy can also now accommodate the needs of introverts, who thrive working remotely but do not thrive working in in-person environments.   

Remote Work is the Future of Work  

Despite overwhelming data showing that remote work positively affects worker productivity and well-being, employers are skeptical.  

The Great Return shows many employers across industries share in this skepticism. The Great Return is driven by employers who would like to see remote work end altogether, and many companies are calling workers back into the office.    

However, as Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said back in May, companies that do not embrace remote work will be severely disadvantaged in the future of work. Chesky’s point is especially apparent in light of research on the causes behind employer skepticism.  

Employers Lack Confidence in Managing Remotely   

In a study reviewing why employers remain skeptical about remote work, Harvard Business Review found that 41% say that they don’t trust their employee’s ability to stay remotely motivated at the same level as they would in person.  

Employers generally do not trust employees to perform tasks correctly without direct managerial supervision, which is why 53% of managers believe remote work is harmful to productivity.  

Then there’s the self-doubt: 40% of managers do not feel confident in their ability to manage remotely.  

A solution to management confidence is direct formal training on remote management, not demanding a return to the office.  

The importance of developing the skills to manage workers remotely is self-evident from Brian Chensky’s point. It will be difficult for companies to embrace remote work when managers cannot keep up, threatening the company’s ability to keep up with the future of work.  

The most actionable way employers can improve their confidence to manage remotely is first to trust the data and then learn to trust their employees.  

Without trust that employees can complete tasks independently, their morale will diminish, which will actually reduce their productivity.  

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