Negative perceptions of remote work persist among both managers and workers

remote workNew research from the US based Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) claims that there are widespread, persistent negative perceptions of remote work amongst line managers who are likely to express a preference for local work. In addition, remote workers themselves continue to express reservations about losing opportunities for networking and increased pay. More than two thirds of supervisors of remote workers surveyed by SHRM, or 67 percent, admit to considering remote workers more easily replaceable than onsite workers at their organization, 62 percent believe full-time remote work is detrimental to employees’ career objectives and 72 percent say they would prefer all of their subordinates to be working in the office.

While most employees agree remote work is beneficial and increases performance, more than half say working remotely on a permanent basis would diminish networking opportunities (59 percent), cause work relationships to suffer (55 percent) and require them to work more hours (54 percent).

Other key findings from SHRM’s surveys of line managers and workers include:

  • Fifty-one percent of remote workers say they spent between $100 and $499 on equipment or furniture needed to work remotely.
  • Sixty-one percent of remote workers who spent money on equipment or furniture paid for it out of pocket.
  • Sixty-seven percent of supervisors say they spend more time supervising remote workers than onsite workers.
  • Forty-two percent of supervisors say they sometimes forget about remote workers when assigning tasks.
  • Thirty-four percent of remote workers say working remotely on a permanent basis would reduce the number of career opportunities available.
  • Twenty-nine percent of remote workers say they will have fewer developmental opportunities while working remotely.

Although women and men have similar responses on most of the ways their career will be impacted by remote work, there are some areas that differed. For example, women (23 percent) were more likely to indicate that they will not have the opportunity to form strong work relationships compared to men working remotely (18 percent).

“With COVID-19 forcing a leap to remote work in many sectors of our economy, and organizations struggling to determine the best workforce strategies post-pandemic, there’s one fact that can’t be ignored—remote work is not ideal for everyone,” said Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, SHRM’s president and chief executive officer. “Remote work can offer benefits, but employers need to take a closer look at whether remote and onsite workers have the same opportunities and whether managers have the tools they need to be effective leaders.”

“These results raise the question of who’s really winning with remote work,” said Taylor. “HR and business leaders need to answer this question to ensure they are able to attract and retain top talent and build an equitable workplace where everyone has the ability to succeed.”

Methodology: A sample of 817 supervisors was surveyed online from July 16-19. A sample of 1,004 working Americans were surveyed online during the same period. A sample of 1,500 women who work remotely was surveyed online June 16 -18. A sample of 1,363 men who work remotely was surveyed online June 18-21. Respondents who selected neutral responses were excluded from analysis. Respondents were sourced from Lucid.