Milken Institute, Infosys Study Says Diversity Remains Top Concern in Remote World

Infosys, a global leader in next-generation digital services and consulting, announced the launch of the Milken Institute and Infosys report ‘Future of Work: Insights for 2021 and Beyond’. The report highlights insights about remote work based on original research; it examines the pandemic’s impact on the workforce and offers recommendations for employers and employees moving forward.

The report, based on surveys of employees and managers of large U.S.-based companies, found that 80 percent of respondents are very or somewhat satisfied with remote work, despite higher workloads and a lack of social interactions with colleagues. Eighty-two percent of managers said their employees are working more than they were before the pandemic, with over half saying employees were working “a lot” more.

However, access to remote work options remains inequitable across income brackets with lower-income employees seeing fewer remote job roles.  Specifically, 69 percent of those with an income below $50k per year said they saw the increased remote working opportunities, compared to 86 percent of those making over $75k per year.

The report finds the shift to remote work has allowed employers to hire talent beyond where they physically operate. Some firms have used this opportunity to double down on diversity and inclusion. The report further explores differing sentiments among demographic groups toward remote work, including a breakdown by gender.

Key findings from the report include:

  • 93% of women said they were satisfied with remote work, compared to 88% of men.
  • There is an increased focus on skills training, and more than half of respondents cited training in some form as a benefit of remote work. Most respondents (including employees themselves) believed employees should look for their own training opportunities, regardless of income level.
  • Companies responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in several ways, from cutting jobs to reducing salaries.
  • Some industries increased their efforts towards diversity hiring.
  • Employers reported a high level of trust in their employees to be productive. Directors, senior management and C-suites all said they trust that employees are working efficiently, but acknowledged they have higher expectations and expect more frequent check-ins from those they manage.
  • Most employees saw increased job opportunities from remote hiring, and employers were more willing to hire workers from elsewhere.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed employment forecasts for different sectors.  Although utility companies experienced the smallest decline in employment during COVID-19, it is projected to have the largest decline of any sector over the next decade. By contrast, while leisure and hospitality have been hardest hit, the industry nonetheless expects strong employment growth.

The study concludes that the future of the workplace – whether in-office, remote, or hybrid – is heralding significant changes in the relationships between employers and employees. Employees are particularly focused on adapting to the increased use of technology, adjusting their work-life balance, and developing trust and camaraderie in a remote setting.

Drawing upon the survey’s results, the report outlines recommendations that address the rise of inequality and disruption stemming from the pandemic. These include strengthening the relationships between businesses and educational institutions, providing employees with financial support for their training, and the need for agility in business as we navigate the future of work and iterate on the best solutions to the unique issues it raises.