Fortune: Key takeaways from the Fortune-NewtonX CHRO survey

September 21, 2021

CHROs and rank-and-file employees alike dread returning to the office.

Originally posted on By Lance Lambert. 

What’s coming next for the workplace?

A few months back, Fortune teamed up with NewtonX, a B2B market research company, to conduct our first-ever CFO survey. Now as employers debate back-to-work policies and vaccine mandates, we decided to team up again with NewtonX to conduct our first-ever chief human resource officer survey.*

Here are the big takeaways from the Fortune-NewtonX CHRO survey.


The numbers to know


  • … of CHROs said net employee productivity rose while they were working remotely. 20% say it is the same, and 15% said it fell. 


  • … of CHROs would prefer to be fully remote (15%) or only 1-2 days per week in the office (45%) once the pandemic ends.


  • … of CHROs expect to be fully remote (5%) or only 1-2 days per week in the office (25%) once the pandemic ends.


  • … of CHROs said their company is likely to cut total office space. While 27.5% said they’re likely to increase it, and 22.5% said keep it the same. 


  • … of CHROs agree that all employees (except those with a valid medical condition) should have proof of a COVID-19 vaccination before entering the workplace. While 7.5% are neutral to the idea, and 30% disagree with it.


The big picture

  • Employees got more done while working from home. Among chief human resource officers, 65% said net employee productivity rose while staffers were working from home. Only 15% said it fell.
  • Rank and file employees aren’t the only ones dreading a return to the office. Among CHROs, 2 in 3 would prefer to be remote or only come in 1-2 days per week. Meanwhile, only 1 in 3 CHROs foresee that coming to fruition.


A few deeper takeaways


1. More flexibility is on the way… and the 9-to-5 is dying.

The pandemic didn’t just challenge the old workplace dogma, it ripped it to shreds. Not only can most employers function with their staffers being remote, they can excel. 

That’s why increased workplace flexibility isn’t going away. Among CHROs, 85% say workers will have more flexibility in how often they come into the office in the post-pandemic world vs. the pre-pandemic workplace. Meanwhile, 58% of CHROs say staffers will have more flexibility on the hours they work.  


2. But… employees might not get all the flexibility they want.

Among all “knowledge workers”, 60% expect they’ll be fully remote (12%) or come in 1-2 days per week into the office (48%) once the pandemic ends.

Leadership has a different outlook.

Among CHROs, 70% see the future workplace as being 5 days per week (10%) or 3-4 days per week in the office (60%). Among all knowledge workers, that figure is just 40%

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