A significant majority of mid-sized companies in key economies believe that hybrid working has had a positive impact on productivity and have increased support for this flexible way of operating since the global pandemic.
Support for working from home has increased across all sectors apart from hospitality and tourism, according to a Moore Intelligence survey conducted among almost 2,000 business leaders in 12 key economies.
The research conducted by the Centre for Economics and Business Research offers a unique insight into mid-sized companies and the thinking of their leaders. Many are entrepreneurs and owner-managers who typically demand anything new they try has to show lasting benefits to workforce relations, efficiency and the bottom line.
Our survey, The New Business Reality, also examined other new business practices that either emerged or have been accelerated by Covid. We found:
• 77% of leaders stated their organisation has become more supportive of remote working because of Covid-19.
• 6-out-of-10 said hybrid working has had a positive impact on productivity, with office-based professional services the strongest supporters.
• 68% of respondents reported their organisation has become more supportive of e-commerce as a result of the pandemic.
The most obvious and long-lasting change has been the rise of remote working, with more than three-quarters of respondents saying they are now more supportive than before Covid struck.
Notably, the energy and utilities sector recorded the biggest change in sentiment towards remote working, with 91% of organisations indicating more supportive attitudes.
Other sectors with support above 80% were property, IT, automotive and aviation, electrical engineering and accounting and finance.
This level of support reflects their ability to exploit technology in order to allow white collar workers and customer service teams to do their jobs effectively away from traditional desks.
The survey encompassed businesses across Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, the Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Among the markets considered in this study, Brazil showed the most marked increase in support for remote working, closely followed by South Africa.
A major benefit of remote working was a perceived increase in productivity.
More than half of business in all sectors – apart from hospitality and tourism – believe hybrid working has positively impacted their organisation’s productivity. However, as our chart shows, the extent to which productivity gains are perceived varies widely across sectors.
Across the whole sample, 62% said that hybrid working aided productivity. Nevertheless, the gains observed are highly dependent on the sector’s ability to transition toward remote working with little or no disruption.
Industries that are less able to implement a hybrid approach are more downbeat on perceived productivity gains. Hospitality and tourism are significantly less supportive of home working, partly because hotels and restaurants have relied on personal service to function and stand out.
It is also worth considering flexible working in the context of an economy’s competitiveness. Our study shows a clear association between a country’s level of hybrid working adoption and consequent productivity gains.
Another big post-Covid trend has been the growing use of e-commerce in purchasing.
Sectors dependent on business-to-business transactions are fully embracing the surge in electronic ordering, payment and documentation. Some 81% of leaders in the engineering sector say they are more supportive of e-commerce and similarly high levels of support can be found in IT, retail, property, automotive and aviation, energy and manufacturing and distribution.
Our survey reveals seismic shifts in the way companies organised their operations and workforces in order to survive the impact of lockdowns and travel restrictions. The findings also dd an intriguing chapter to the ongoing debate about whether hybrid working is now The New Normal.
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