Mon.
Oct 18
2021

Russian companies have allowed employees to continue to work remotely even after the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions, according to a joint study by Deloitte CIS and food retailer X5 Group.

Remote work or hybrid formats persisted in 97% of the companies surveyed, according to an online survey conducted among 80 companies from various sectors, including the top nine IT, financial services, and trade companies.

Employees overwhelmingly favoured remote work: 80% of participants rated the experience as significantly positive or positive. More than 90% of employees preferred new formats to the traditional office-only approach. The report also showed that about 60% support a mix of office and remote working, while 35% prefer to work all the time remotely.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 27% of companies surveyed did not even offer remote working as an option for employees.

Reactions have varied globally. In the United Kingdom, workers have returned to the office with mixed feelings, according to professionals interviewed by the Guardian. Some welcome the return of structure, while others see potential health risks. Still others see the change as a permanent fixture, as they see themselves on remote calls even if working from the office.

At Wildberries, a major Russian online retailer, most employees work remotely, and its management has pointed to inconsistency in actions and communications. However, the productivity of employees has grown from it. The company tries to organize at least one joint working day a week for them in the office to avoid this.

Other companies also maintain some degree of skepticism regarding the format. At Fix Price, a Russia-based chain of discount variety stores, 30-40% of office staff work remotely now, and the company is in no hurry to decide on permanent remote work.

However, the ability to suggest your own office schedule has also become part of the standard package for office employees at companies such as food retailer X5 Group. In fact, the company had started piloting a remote work format back in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

M.Video-Eldorado Group, a top consumer electronics and household appliances retailer, has even launched co-living as a new format for remote work. Employees can choose from a wide variety of locations for remote working under this program:  co-living hubs are currently located in Russia, Georgia, Morocco, Sri Lanka and Turkey. According to M.Video-Eldorado, the company expects around 10% of the office staff will use the program during its first year.

Russia’s digital financial and lifestyle services provider Tinkoff is also providing opportunities for staff to work remotely. “As Russia’s largest digital bank, we understood the power of online long before the pandemic. You’re only as good as your people, and we’ve made sure to search across the whole of Russia for the best tech talent,” Tinkoff Group CEO Oliver Hughes told the Financial Times.  

“Long before Covid-19 struck, we set up virtual development hubs from Sochi to Novosibirsk to appeal to developers who generally prefer to work remotely,'” he said.

In July 2021, Tinkoff announced it would open nine new development hubs across Russia and Belarus. The company intends to hire 800 employees to staff the development hubs by the end of the year.

Russian companies seem to be in no rush to push their employees back into the office, according to the study, and the nation’s professionals themselves seem just fine with that. In any case, the survey provides more evidence that remote work is becoming the new normal.

By Stephen Bierman

Stephen Bierman is an energy markets journalist and the editor of New Economy Observer.

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