When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, remote work exploded, as 54% of organizations around the world modified roles to be remote-capable2. The number of employees working from home multiplied worldwide, and the amount of time Americans typically spent working at home surged from 5% to 60%3. This unexpected global health event permanently shifted the dynamics of everyday workplace culture. At the time, nobody knew how long it would last.
Yet even before the pandemic hit, remote work was on the rise. In April 2020, O.C. Tanner’s Rise of the Remote Worker webinar shared the statistic that work from home had experienced a 10% growth rate every year over the previous 10 years4. The dierence in 2020 was that almost all organizations had to figure out how a large portion of their workforce could work remotely, yet somehow stay productive and connected to their coworkers until it was safe to return to regular oce settings.
About This Report
Going remote: A global experiment
Employers soon discovered that moving employees to o-site work was not as easy as flipping a switch. Practically speaking, only certain types of jobs could be performed away from a business o‑ce or work facility. Businesses worldwide had to identify which roles or teams could carry out their work from a distance, and then orchestrate a transition.
A study by McKinsey Global Institute found that only 20%-25% of the workforces in advanced economies could work from home, between three and five days a week. But even those numbers represented four to five times more remote work than before the pandemic.
Throughout 2020, HR leaders reacted to federal and state health guidelines, local business limitations, and social distancing requirements that could aect their workforce. They adapted their policies appropriately as guidelines changed.
A year later, as Covid-19 vaccinations were deployed and the number of cases started to decline, leaders began to create plans on how employees would continue to work remotely or return to the workplace once pandemic restrictions were lifted.
O.C. Tanner researchers also found that on-site workers are four times more likely to feel that recognition is embedded in their culture.12 This highlights how remote workers are too often separated from their company culture.