Survey of supervisors: Remote workers ‘more easily replaceable’

Many companies continue to assess the future of remote work for their employees, and many employees who’ve grown to like working remotely are pushing to keep doing so.

Some jobs are a perfect fit for remote work, but many actually are not, even though they were forced to become remote during the pandemic.

The Alexandria, Virginia-based Society for Human Resource Management released a survey of supervisors and employees, and the results may give those pushing to keep working remotely pause.

“Over two-thirds of supervisors feel that remote workers are more easily replaceable. That is a scary fact for a lot of people who are working remotely, or thinking about working remotely,” said SHRM’s HR Knowledge Center Quality Manager Liz Petersen.

Of the supervisors surveyed:

  • 67% admit to considering remote workers more easily replaceable;
  • 62% believe full-time remote work is detrimental to employees’ career objectives;
  • 72% would prefer all subordinates work in the office.

While most employees in the survey agree remote work is beneficial and increases performance, more than half (59%) say working remotely on a permanent basis would diminish networking opportunities, cause work relationships to suffer (55%) and require them to work more hours (54%).

For employees who typically worked in an office setting before the pandemic, not being in the office now can become an “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” problem for them.

“Forty-two percent of supervisors admit sometimes they forget the remote workers when they are assigning tasks. There is a lot of evidence that ‘out of sight, out of mind’ is active in our workplaces,” Petersen said.

Thirty-four percent of remote workers say working remotely on a permanent basis would reduce the number of career opportunities available.

“Remote work is not ideal for everyone. Remote work can offer benefits, but employers need to take a closer look at whether remote and on-site workers have the same opportunities and whether mangers have the tools they need to be effective leaders,’ said SHRM President and Chief Executive Officer Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.

The Society for Human Resource Management surveyed 817 supervisors and just over 3,800 working Americans including those working remotely, online between June 16 and June 19.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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