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What's the plan > On the fence about remote work? Here’s the data that makes the case

HR Outsourcing Survey Series

On the fence about remote work? Here’s the data that makes the case

ADP’s HR experts are always on the hunt for the most up-to-date HR solutions to continue to support our community of small and midsized business owners and HR leaders.

Explore the results from our HR Survey Series, which surveyed 500 small business executives and 1000 employees, and learn how this community is responding to frenetic change.


The remote work era is truly upon us: the results of our survey revealed that nearly three out of five employers expect their employees to continue working remotely for the foreseeable future — either entirely or some days during the week.

That’s up significantly, of course, from the pre-pandemic world, when remote work was a rare benefit offered in exceptional circumstances or as an incentive for top workers. 

But what does remote work mean when it becomes a strategic option rather than a necessity?

38% of employers told us they’ve lost employees due to their work location policies, and 70% of employees who are already working remotely said they expect to remain at least partially remote for the next 6 to 12 months.

Therefore, it's clear businesses may need to embrace remote work whatever their plans. The good news is that our survey points to several strategic reasons to embrace this model. 

Remote-only businesses are attracting talent

The number one challenge facing employers is talent — from recruiting and hiring, to engaging and retaining, talent should be at the center of any good HR strategy. 

In this employee's market, where every business is finding it harder to attract people, how do you gain an edge? Our survey suggests that businesses offering remote work have a competitive advantage.

We also found that close to three-quarters of employees expect to work remotely in some capacity, so it’s no surprise that remote-only businesses are attracting people in greater numbers.

If you’re unsure about the strategic benefits of continued remote work, consider that —  if nothing else — remote-only businesses are winning the war for talent. 

Remote workers are more engaged

When the working world went remote, many business leaders were concerned about the impact it would have on both engagement and productivity. 

But remote workers are just as engaged — and in some cases more engaged -- than they were when they were onsite.

In our survey, 68% of remote-only employees felt that their employers were doing a good job of keeping them engaged, 66% of employees who were both remote and onsite felt the same, and only 43% of on-site-only employees answered similarly. Perhaps remote time—in some form—increases engagement?

Similarly, remote-only businesses have had less trouble with employee engagement than on-site-only companies: 82% of remote-only employers did not list productivity as a challenge, compared with close to a quarter (24%) of on-site employers who said that productivity was a challenge. 

Of course, the data suggests that there will always be questions around engagement and productivity.

Whether remote or onsite, employers are still concerned that a portion of employees are struggling, and companies will need to continue to monitor engagement metrics going into 2022. 

Remote has advantages in a range of other areas

Training and development of existing employees seem to be easier in a remote environment as well. Of all employers surveyed, 24% found training to be a challenge, while just 10% of remote-only employers cited this as a struggle.

Remote employers are also less likely to call in sick. 17% of businesses reported that employee sickness had been a challenge recently, while just 10% of remote-only companies were experiencing the same challenge. 

Lastly, remote employers were less likely to encounter performance issues: 14% of remote-only companies have been experiencing performance challenges compared with 21% across all businesses. 

Whatever your approach, remote work should be part of your HR strategy

In the face of evidence that speaks to the benefits of remote work, many are still returning to work on-site. But as business leaders and employees make that decision, it’s important to remember the strategic benefits remote work can bring. 

The reality is that, as we go into 2022, employees will expect to be able to walk different paths. Businesses will need to develop policies that accommodate their people’s respective preferences. Companies with a truly differentiated strategy may well be the ones that succeed. 

Whatever path a company ultimately takes, the data is clear: remote work has many strong advantages over a fully on-site model. While some companies are considering dropping remote work, it’s here to stay – and in many important ways, it's an approach that wins the day. 

ABOUT THE HRO SURVEY SERIES

Explore the results from our HR Survey Series, which surveyed 500 small business executives and 1000 employees, and learn how this community is responding to frenetic change.

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