TMT companies beta test the office of the future

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.

Remote work is second nature to TMT

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.
 

Remote work: Past versus future


Past experience
Future preference
Not at all
%
%
1-3 days per month
%
%
1-4 days per week
%
%
Five days per week
%
%

Q: Before COVID-19, how often did you typically work remotely?
Q: Going forward, in a typical work week, how often would you want to work remotely (if you could decide and if COVID-19 was not a concern)?
Employees: Base 1,200; TMT base 250
Source: PwC US Remote Work Survey, June 2020

Remote work is productive work

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.
 

Productivity on the rise


More productive
Less productive
Team-based
%
%
Wanderers
%
%
Sentries
%
%
Rovers
%
%

Team based = most work in collaboration with others
Wanderers = most work independently with occasional collaboration
Sentries = most work on-site
Rovers = field workers

Q: During the COVID-related shelter at home, how has average employee productivity for the following roles changed (compared to pre-COVID)?
Employers: Base 120; TMT base 35
Source: PwC US Remote Work Survey, June 2020

More connectivity + more flexibility = more productivity    

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.
 

Making remote work more productive*


Better hardware/equipment (such as laptop, monitor, printer, chair)
%
Greater flexibility in when I work
%
Better security policies to support remote work
%
Help managing workloads
%
Greater flexibility in taking time off
%

*Highest-ranked choices from a list of 10 options
Q: Looking forward, which of the following would help you be more productive when working remotely? Employees: Base 1,200; TMT base 250
Source: PwC US Remote Work Survey, June 2020

In-person connections vital for collaboration

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.
 

Remote work on the rise


Expect decrease
Expect increase
Field or regional offices
%
%
Processing centers
%
%
Sales offices
%
%
Contact centers
%
%
Corporate headquarters
%
%
R&D centers
%
%

Q: Going forward, what change do you expect in the number of employees working remotely at least one day per week (compared to pre-COVID) for the following?
Employers: Base 120; TMT base 35
Source: PwC US Remote Work Survey, June 2020

What office space needs do TMT executives foresee?

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 executives anticipate 2023 office footprint

How do you anticipate your total office space needs will be different 3 years from now?
Employers: Base 113; TMT base 34
Source: PwC US Remote Work Survey, June 2020

What might the TMT office of the future look like?

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:

  • Will remote work reduce office space needs?
    Think about how you may need to remodel your existing offices to enable more effective connectivity and collaboration.
  • Which roles are best suited for remote work?
    Establish guidelines for how many days a week employees in each role should work remotely —  based on equipment, systems and collaborative work.
  • What do your employees want?
    Personal circumstances may lead some employees to work remotely more or less frequently than guidelines allow. Ask them what they want via surveys and discussions.
  • Which technologies work best?
    Provide collaboration tools and access to data for effective remote work. Assess and close security gaps in your remote work set-up.  
  • What new practices can you adopt?
    Set new expectations for meetings and collaboration within a virtual-first mindset. Coaching, development and related metrics are particularly important for remote workers.

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Mark McCaffrey

US Technology, Media and Telecommunications Leader, PwC US

Dr. Deniz Caglar

Principal, Financial Services, Strategy&, PwC US

Namit Kapoor

Vice President & Lead Partner, Strategy&, PwC US

Jean Lee

Partner, PwC US

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