The isolation of staff and the potential of teams working in silos or a lack of cohesion of teams working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic are among the chief concerns of 62% of business leaders, according to a new survey published by the Institute of Directors (IoD) in Ireland today. Only 12% of respondents express concern about remote working productivity rates, sometimes cited in the past as a potential barrier to increased remote working practices.
The IoD research also finds that 64% of business leaders believe the majority of their staff will be back in the company workplace by the end of September 2021 (15% say Q1; 26% say Q2; 23% say Q3; 12% say Q4 2021) while 10% think all or most staff will work remotely in the future.
A small majority of business leaders (39%) believes remote working has been a positive and productive experience for their organisation, while 24% say it has not and 35% are undecided.
The IoD’s Director Sentiment Monitor survey for Q3 2020 was conducted between the 16th and 27th October 2020 and was completed by 323 directors and business leaders, who are members of IoD Ireland. In addition, 71% of the respondents are directors (including 33% who are CEOs), with the majority of the remainder in senior executive roles. The Q3 survey had a 95% completion rate.
The Director Sentiment Monitor tracks business sentiment on a quarterly basis.
Maura Quinn, Chief Executive of the Institute of Directors in Ireland, commented:
"The historical view that most business leaders are concerned about the productivity of staff who work remotely is debunked by this survey, which finds that it is the isolation of staff and the potential of teams working in silos or a lack of cohesion of teams that are their primary concerns. Indeed, this is reinforced by another of our findings that a majority of business leaders believes remote working has been a positive and productive experience for their organisation. Although the promise of COVID-19 vaccines is tantalisingly close, business leaders clearly believe that remote working will continue well into 2021."
In a further key finding, cyber security has also been a key focus for business leaders during the COVID-19 crisis, with 43% saying their organisation’s cyber security measures have increased due to the prevalence of remote working, data transfer and video conferencing, with a further 17% saying their cyber security needs to be increased.
Among the key findings of the Director Sentiment Monitor survey for Q3 2020 are:
Remote Working – Concerns: When asked, ‘What is your single predominant concern around your workforce working from home versus working in the company workplace?’, the business leaders chose as follows:
- Isolation of staff: 31%
- Teams working in silos/lack of cohesion of teams: 31%
- Productivity rates: 12%
Other options selected included: Consistency of corporate culture issues: 7%; A breakdown in internal communications: 6%; Recruitment of staff: 2%; Induction/training of staff: 2%; Cyber security: 1%; GDPR compliance: 1%; Other: 6%.
Returning to Company Workplace: When asked, ‘In respect of your primary organisation, do you foresee the majority of staff being in the office/workplace by…’, the business leaders chose as follows:
- Q1 - January to March 2021: 15%
- Q2 – April - June 2021: 26%
- Q3 – July – Sept 2021: 23%
- Q4 – Oct – Dec 2021: 12%
- Not applicable: all or most staff will work remotely in future: 10%
- Don’t know: 14%
Remote Working – The Experience: When asked, ‘Overall, do you think that increased remote working in your organisation has been a positive and productive experience?’ the respondents selected as follows:
- Yes: 39%
- No: 24%
- Undecided: 35%
- Don't know: 2%
Cyber Security: When asked, ‘In respect of your primary organisation, have cyber security measures to address the potential impact of remote working, data transfer and videoconferencing been increased?’, the respondents chose as follows:
- Cyber security measures have increased: 43%
- Cyber security measures in place are already very strong, so no new measures were needed: 35%
- Cyber security measures have not been increased, but need to be: 17%
- Cyber security measures have decreased: 0%
- Not sure: 5%
The findings in this research have been rounded up or down to the nearest decimal point.
Read the full Director Sentiment Monitor Survey Q3 2020.