CEOs Say Remote Work is Permanent, HR Technology Should Adjust

Global Network

CEOs increasingly believe that the shift to remote work is now structural, indicating that employers will rely more heavily on technology that facilitates working from home, digital collaboration and automation.

A survey by PwC found that 61% of CEOs say their businesses will be more digital in the future, a change that was already underway but has been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

CEOs: Shift to remote work is permanent, employers need #HRTech to aid working from home, digital collaboration, automation. @PwC #HR Share on X

Strengthening digital infrastructure, developing flexible-work arrangements and employee well-being are CEOs’ priorities as they “reconfigure” their business operations over the next year, PwC said.

Also of concern are supply chains. Some 58% of corporate leaders said supply chain safety will drive technology investments to improve tracking of products from production to delivery, and to monitor suppliers and partners.

More Focus on Workforce

Because of the pandemic, CEOs now pay more attention to employee issues, the survey found. Some 92% said their companies have offered health and safety support to workers since the pandemic began, and 61% provided wellness support. Only 24% offered financial support.

Those who protected their employees’ health believe their actions will benefit the organization’s reputation in the long term.

“Whatever new models emerge, it’s clear that employee-oriented policies that invest in safety, protection and well-being could become the new differentiator for recruitment, retention and company reputation,” observed Bhushan Sethi, joint global leader, people and organization, for PwC US.

Not surprisingly, business leaders are cautious about predicting their future growth prospects. Only 15% are very confident about the year ahead, PwC said, while 45% are somewhat confident. Nearly two-thirds—65%—anticipate a global decline in growth.

And, in what PwC calls, “a challenge to decades of increased globalization,” 39% expect to see a permanent shift toward onshoring and insourcing.

Changing HR Tech Demands

The CEOs’ outlook is another indication that HR technology providers should consider changing the way they imagine and develop solutions. Challenges to process and engagement are taking on more weight, as is the need for human connections at a time when more employees are working in isolation.

Covid-19 has imposed dramatic changes on the way work gets done. Since March, those changes have put  enormous strains on HR as it scrambled to develop remote-work policies, even as it administered layoffs, wrestled with compliance and developed strategies for safely reopening facilities. 

Given the need for tools to support remote workers, as well as organization-wide wellness and communications efforts, it’s not surprising that 50% of the HR professionals surveyed by Paychex expect to invest more money in technology this year.

Meanwhile, a separate study from Gartner said the focus of employee experience efforts has shifted to performance and engagement of a hybrid workforce, where some work remotely while others operate from the workplace.

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