The sudden shift to remote work in response to shelter-in-place mandates in the wake of COVID-19 necessitated a rapid redesign of work itself. Tech, media and telecommunications (TMT) executives told PwC — in a June 2020 survey that also included employees — that more than half their office workforce spent 90% of their time operating remotely. The vast majority — 74% — reported the transition was a success.
More than half — 55% — of TMT office workers had already worked remotely at least one day a week pre-COVID-19, substantially more than other sectors (43%). This comes as no surprise, given the sector’s ongoing investment in the digital tools and training required for connectivity and collaboration. Post-COVID-19, close to 60% of employees would like to work remotely between one and four days each week.
TMT office workers are much more likely than those in all sectors (68% versus 49%) to describe themselves as team-based, defined as doing most of their work in collaboration with others. And while 34% of them reported less collaboration during the COVID-related shelter-in-place mandates, their productivity remained high, as reported by executives: Almost two-thirds — 63% — of TMT executives told us team-based workers were more productive during this period.
The main impediment to productivity for TMT workers was difficulty collaborating with team members. Also high on the list was difficulty obtaining information from colleagues. What would improve productivity? Workers would like better tools for connectivity and collaboration as well as more flexibility in their schedules — all of which TMT executives are already planning to provide.
TMT executives told us that while the share of remote workers will likely increase, the office will likely continue to play a role for workers. TMT workers like going into the office to collaborate face-to-face with team members (59%), build relationships (35%) and obtain in-person technology support (30%), suggesting they will eventually return to the workplace, although likely not at pre-COVID-19 levels.
The trend toward remote work will likely influence office-space decisions, according to 75% of TMT executives. To keep up with growth and anticipated physical-distancing requirements, however, more than half — 53% — expect to need more space in three years while 24% expect to need less.
TMT workers have already made clear their preference for collaboration and connectivity, which executives plan to provide. Meanwhile, both executives and workers support a permanent flexible workweek. The following questions can help TMT companies think through the optimal combination of remote and in-office productivity:
Dr. Deniz Caglar
Principal, Financial Services, Strategy&, PwC US
Vice President & Lead Partner, Strategy&, PwC US
Partner, PwC US