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What’s Keeping CEOs Up At Night About Working Remotely?

A survey of 500 CEOs led to the launch of a new web site dedicated to helping leaders navigate the uncertainties of remote.

The Wall Street Journal asked 19 CEOs for their perspective on remote work and whether it was working for them. We asked 500.

With the help of our parent company, Chief Executive Group, we questioned 500 CEOs on their biggest challenges in managing the sudden, Covid-enforced transition to remote work. We were so bowled over by the volume, breadth and depth of  responses that we launched an entire website to help navigate the uncertainties of remote, and also distilled the responses into an insightful whitepaper: “Remote Work; The CEO Perspective.” You can download a free copy here, and read on for a key summary:

Proportion of remote workers working remotely

The remote work CEO survey benchmarked the proportion of workers operating remotely— 1) before Covid; 2) currently; and 3) projected in 12 months’ time. Pre-Covid, only 13% of workers were operating remotely to some degree but CEOs indicated they anticipate this will more than double, to 30%, 12 months from now. It’s currently sitting around 50%—but this is likely much higher if you discount manufacturing and businesses which simply can’t operate remotely.

CEO’s Fears and Concerns About Remote Work

We also asked CEOs to rank their key challenges in operating remotely. Responses ranged across the whole gamut of issues of sudden, enforced remote work — from managing productivity, to enabling communication, to providing effective training, fostering innovation and maintaining work-life balance. But the top concern, with 60% of respondents’ votes was managing culture.

For businesses accustomed to being together in an office-based environment, covid19 has thrown a real curve-ball in terms of how to continue to perpetuate a business’ values and identity, how to keep staff connected, engaged and feeling part of a team.  The potential knock-on effect of failing to do so effectively – if you lose that sense of connection and trust, if a company’s values are no longer being perpetuated actively and so no longer resonate with you – is that employees will seek work elsewhere, so we anticipate that the impact of not protecting and nurturing culture will likely feed into recruitment and retention challenges, in time.

This is certainly an area in which CEOs need additional support and we’re working on bringing you a series of free webinars to provide education and guidance on managing all elements of remote work, including how to nurture your company culture remotely. (Sign up here to be notified when these are available.)

Managing Remote Employees – What’s Important

We asked CEOs to identify the most important element in effectively managing remote workers and remote teams — collaboration and communication were the most commonly identified factors, followed by maintaining productivity through effective workflow and accountability and, close behind, balancing workloads. There was a consensus and realization that work-life balance has been impacted by Covid and awareness that care was required to manage this effectively.

Handling of the Covid Crisis

The quantitative responses to this question suggested  CEOs had the information, competencies and resources to tackle the challenges ahead, but qualitative responses indicated a high level of discontent with Government and Media handling of the crisis.

For the full report please click here.


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