A new survey shows that the isolation of staff and a lack of cohesion of teams who are working remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic are among the chief concerns of business leaders. 

The survey from the Institute of Directors in Ireland shows that only 12% of respondents expressed concern about remote working productivity rates, which has sometimes been cited in the past as a potential barrier to increased remote working practices.

The IoD research also finds that 64% of business leaders believe the majority of their staff will be back in the company workplace by the end of September 2021.

15% of business chiefs predicted that they will be back in the office in the first quarter of 2021, while 26% said the second quarter, 23% said the third quarter and 12% said the final quarter of next year. 

10% think all or most staff will work remotely in the future. 

Today's survey also reveals that 39% of business leaders believed remote working has been a positive and productive experience for their organisation, while 24% said it has not and 35% were undecided. 

It also shows that cyber security has also been a key focus for business leaders during the Covid-19 crisis.

43% of bosses said their company's cyber security measures have increased due to the prevalence of remote working, data transfer and video conferencing. 17% said their cyber security needs to be increased.

IoD Ireland's Director Sentiment Monitor survey for the third quarter of the year was conducted between October 2020 16 and 27, amongst its 3,000 members, comprising CEOs and company directors.

Maura Quinn, the chief executive of the Institute of Directors in Ireland, said the historical view that most business leaders are concerned about the productivity of staff who work remotely is debunked by this survey, which finds that it is the isolation of staff, and the potential of teams working in silos or a lack of cohesion of teams, that are their primary concerns. 

"Indeed, this is reinforced by another of our findings that a majority of business leaders believes remote working has been a positive and productive experience for their organisation," Maura Quinn said.

She said that although the promise of Covid-19 vaccines is tantalisingly close, business leaders clearly believe that remote working will continue well into 2021.